Several major chemical companies have begun settling lawsuits filed by states over claims they are polluting the environment with potentially harmful chemicals. 

Maine, Maryland, New Mexico and Rhode Island have all recently filed litigation against 3M, DuPont and other companies for producing PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as forever chemicals. The lawsuits allege the companies knew the dangers of forever chemicals but continued using them.

The potentially carcinogenic substances are called forever chemicals because they take a long time to break down in the environment and in humans. PFAS can seep into the soil and water supplies, where they remain for years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said even a small amount of exposure to forever chemicals can pose a serious health risk. Research has found links between PFAS and Type 2 diabetes, cancer and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

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Chemical Companies Respond

In June, Chemours, Corteva and DuPont agreed to a settlement of $1.19 billion with states over contamination. That money will be used to remove forever chemicals from public drinking water systems nationwide. 

3M will pay up to $12.5 billion to resolve claims it created dangerous forever chemicals that allegedly polluted multiple cities and towns across the country. The settlement was made days before 3M’s first federal trial over forever chemicals. The lawsuit claims that 3M polluted soil and groundwater in Stuart, Florida, with firefighting foams that contain PFAS. Aqueous film forming foams, or AFFF, have been the subject of many recent lawsuits.

In addition, the state of Minnesota settled with 3M for $850 million and Delaware settled with DuPont and its subsidiaries for $50 million.

A spokesperson for 3M said the company plans to end the production of forever chemicals by 2025. Other manufacturers said they would do the same over the next few years. In 2018, the Chemours company pledged to reduce the emissions of forever chemicals by 99% at all of its manufacturing sites by 2030. 

Dow denies manufacturing forever chemicals and said the company hasn’t been accused of any environmental contamination. DuPont claims it has never manufactured forever chemicals and says the lawsuits are “without merit.”