Wave of PFAS Lawsuits ‘Like Asbestos Litigation’

A worker handles PFAS plastics

During a recent plastic industry conference, Attorney Brian Gross warned executives that legal battles surrounding PFAS could “dwarf anything related to asbestos,” one of the most extensive corporate-liability cases in United States history.

The comparisons to wide-reaching and costly asbestos litigation signals potentially astronomical costs for the companies involved.

Asbestos lawsuits were first filed in the late 20th century after it became public knowledge that the mineral could cause serious health issues like mesothelioma.

Companies that made, sold, and distributed asbestos-containing products faced countless lawsuits from those who had been harmed, leading to billions of dollars in settlements, verdicts, and legal fees.

The anticipated costs of lawsuits over PFAS-caused cancers and other health issues highlight the widespread damage these chemicals have caused. Similar to asbestos, PFAS contamination is extensive, with traces found in drinking water, soil, and 99% of Americans.

What Is PFAS Litigation?

PFAS litigation refers to lawsuits filed against companies that manufactured or used PFAS (per- and polyfluroalkyl substances) in their business operations. Chemical companies like 3M, DuPont, and Chemours are among the leaders in this industry.

PFAS lawsuits allege that companies failed to disclose the health risks of these man-made chemicals, leading to widespread exposure and environmental contamination.

Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS can be found in nonstick pans, fast-food wrappers, a type of firefighting foam called aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), and many other products.

They are remarkably persistent in the environment and have been linked to severe health issues, including several types of cancer and developmental delays in children.

PFAS-related health problems include:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Renal cancer (kidney cancer)
  • Testicular cancer
  • Thyroid disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Uterine or endometrial cancer

Several lawsuits have already been filed. For instance, 3M recently agreed to pay up to $10.3 billion to water utilities across the U.S. to cover cleanup costs. Additionally, 30 states have sued PFAS manufacturers for widespread contamination.

As awareness of PFAS-related illnesses grows, more companies are expected to be scrutinized and held accountable for their use of these dangerous chemicals.

First responders are at a particularly high risk of regular PFAS exposure due to firefighting foam and other job-related sources. If you were a firefighter and later developed cancer, you may qualify to file a PFAS lawsuit.

High Costs of PFAS Similar to Asbestos

The financial impact of PFAS litigation is expected to mirror the high costs seen in asbestos cases. Asbestos litigation has led to a flood of claims, including mesothelioma lawsuits and asbestos trust fund claims.

Mesothelioma settlements award between $1 million and $1.4 million per person on average.

Despite decades of legal action, approximately 3,000 people are still diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, highlighting the enduring nature of asbestos litigation.

PFAS litigation could potentially exceed these figures due to the extensive use of the forever chemicals and their pervasive presence in the environment.

The Biden administration’s recent regulatory actions, requiring the removal of certain PFAS chemicals from drinking water and designating some as hazardous substances, further shift the cleanup responsibility to polluters and pave the way for increased litigation.

Who’s at Risk of PFAS Exposure?

PFAS contamination is so widespread that everyone in the U.S. is at risk of exposure. These chemicals have been found in drinking water, rain, snow, and the blood of nearly every American. Individuals living near manufacturing plants, military bases, and landfills are particularly vulnerable to higher levels of exposure.

Communities across the country are already experiencing the effects of PFAS contamination. Residents in Belmont, Michigan, discovered PFAS-laden waste from a nearby tannery, leading to high levels of PFAS in their blood and causing related health issues.

The town of Menomonie, Wisconsin, detected high levels of PFAS in its groundwater caused by a container of firefighting foam that had spilled at a nearby 3M manufacturing facility.

Firefighters may be at the highest risk. PFAS chemicals are found in both firefighting foam and the safety gear these first responders wear to protect themselves from on-the-job hazards.

Some firefighters, military service members, and other emergency personnel have qualified for firefighter foam settlements, which are payouts from manufacturers to resolve PFAS cancer lawsuits.

With serious health risks and widespread contamination, the legal and regulatory landscape for PFAS is rapidly evolving, signaling significant challenges ahead for the industries involved.

Lawsuits from impacted individuals and communities are expected to surge as more people become aware of the risks of exposure.

Find a PFAS Cancer Lawyer Near You

The impending wave of PFAS lawsuits has the potential to rival, if not surpass, the asbestos litigation in scope and financial impact.

LawFirm.com has partnered with lawyers across the country who can help firefighters who were exposed to PFAS and later diagnosed with cancer.

Our PFAS lawyers can help victims in all 50 states and never charge any upfront or out-of-pocket fees.

Together, they’ve secured over $10 billion for victims nationwide harmed by dangerous products.

Call (888) 726-9160 right now or fill out our contact form to see if they can help you get compensation and justice.

 

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  1. Environmental Working Group. “What are PFAS chemicals?” Retrieved June 14, 2024, from https://www.ewg.org/what-are-pfas-chemicals
  2. The New York Times. “Lawyers to Plastics Makers: Prepare for ‘Astronomical’ PFAS Lawsuits.” Retrieved June 14, 2024, from https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/28/climate/pfas-forever-chemicals-industry-lawsuits.html
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