PFOA And PFAS Chemical Contamination Cases
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of compounds that first arose in the 1940s. At this point chemical regulations were few and far between. They are useful because of their properties that repel water and oil and survive for long periods of time, but these are also the characteristics that make them quite dangerous to people and the environment. Some sources report that thousands of PFAS have been used in industries globally, including hundreds within the United States.
The most common forms of PFASs are per-fluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). PFOA is used to produce a chemical commonly known as TeflonTM, coming into widespread use in the 1960s. PFOA is also used in textiles and electrical wire casings. PFOS have been used in stain repellants, pesticides, and surface coatings for many everyday items.
PFAS as a whole have been involved in widespread contamination.
Some localities have tries to control these contaminants in recent times, but they may have waited too long to seriously undercut its negative effects. In 2000, there was a voluntary phase out of these products, but many companies did not participate. They are still largely present in products by these manufacturers and imported products from outside the country. China is currently the largest PFAS emitter in the world.
Recent evidence shows that purportedly safer alternatives to PFAS actually pose the same risks. These new PFASs are largely less effective, creating the presumption that they will be used more and still failing to break down in the environment.What Does This All Mean?
PFASs, because of the resistant properties that make them so attractive, stay in soil and water for long periods of time. They largely enter the environment from landfills where these products are disposed of and contaminate air, soil, and water. PFASs have been shows to persist in water for between 5 to 15 years in some cases. They have been found in strawberries, lettuce, fish, seals, polar bears, and dolphins.
The most pressing issue is the contamination of United States drinking water. As of 2016, surveys of water supplies indicated that over 16 million people across 33 states were potential exposed to high levels. States have conducted independent studies of their own water, some finding that 75% of their supply contained high levels of PFAS. A concerning study back in 2004 estimates that over 98% of the United States population had detectable levels of PFAS in their blood.
Contamination in the human body can last long after exposure stops. Exposure poses concerning health risks to humans, and infants are especially vulnerable largely being exposed through breast milk.
The federal government has no current standard for PFAS in drinking water. Some states have tried to develop enforceable standards. The fact is: PFASs still circulate today, and you have likely been exposed. Several communities around the country have had to deal with contaminations. As of 2018, there were 172 contaminations across 40 states.Health Risks of PFAS
- High cholesterol
- Thyroid disease
- Weight gain
- Decreased fertility
- Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
- Decrease in birthweight for infants
- Poor liver and immune system responses
- Decreased vaccine responses
- Ulcerative colitis
- Testicular cancer
- Kidney cancer
States have filed suits to require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take steps to decontaminate their communities. Recent legislation has also sought to minimize PFAS on military bases. On January 10, 2020, the House passed an action which would require the EPA to designate PFAS as “hazardous substances.” If this occurs, Superfund imposes liability on responsible parties to decontaminate sites. There is a long and increasing list of further legislation that will be addressed in coming years.What Can You do Right Now?
Individuals can pursue legal action against responsible parties including the U.S. government and manufacturers that use PFAS. Whether you have suffered an injury because of PFAS or been displaced as a result of contamination, we can help. We have an experiences team of toxic chemical exposure attorneys that can secure you compensation. The Greater Boston law firm of Altman & Altman, LLP has provided personal injury clients with exceptional legal representation throughout Massachusetts for over four decades. Our attorneys will handle every aspect of your chemical exposure claim, and will not hesitate to take your case to trial if an acceptable settlement agreement cannot be reached.
Schedule a free consultation. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 (toll-free). You may also contact us online. Please note that we represent all victims of food poisoning on a contingency fee basis, which means that we charge no fee unless you recover.