Statement on 3M PFAS settlement: now we must turn off the toxic tap

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG; Director, Stop Toxic PFAS Campaign, PIRG

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Pervasive ‘forever chemicals’ contaminate U.S. drinking water, seafood and waterways

BALTIMORE — The chemical manufacturer 3M Co. announced Thursday that it would pay up to $10.3 billion to settle lawsuits over Poly- and perfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination of drinking water systems. Three other major chemical companies — DuPont, Chemours and Corteva — settled similar cases for more than $1 billion earlier in June.

The claims against 3M focused primarily on PFAS contamination of drinking water systems. These oil- and water-resistant compounds have been used in some firefighting foam and consumer products for decades. The chemicals are so prevalent in homes and communities that nearly every American has PFAS in their blood 

PFAS are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in the environment or in the body. Researchers have linked these chemicals to a host of serious health issues, including cancer.

In response, Environment America’s Clean Water Program Director John Rumpler said:

“Until we stop using PFAS everywhere, these toxic chemicals will continue polluting our drinking water and harming our families. Both federal and state officials must act now to stop the flow of ‘forever chemicals’ into our environment.” 

Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr added: 

“Part of life in 21st century America is exposure to PFAS. But it doesn’t have to be that way and these recent settlements, most notably 3M’s, could mean the beginning of the end for these dangerous chemicals. Science tells us that PFAS in food and water puts our health at risk, so it’s unacceptable that companies continue to use them so widely.

“This settlement will go a long way toward cleaning up drinking water for millions of Americans, but the costs to our health and our environment are likely far larger. We need to keep holding polluting industries accountable so taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill.”


Resource: Environment America Research & Policy Center’s recent report, The Threat of Forever Chemicals, offers background, analysis and policy options to address PFAS chemicals.