Philadelphia mass tort lawyers anticipate that litigation surrounding forever chemicals will intensify as PFAs and other toxic chemicals circulate in the water system. In 2021, over 1,000 PFAS lawsuits were filed, with the great majority resulting in Multidistrict Legislation for aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). The claims for the firefighting foam MDL include personal injury claims, medical monitoring claims, and claims for cleanup of PFAS in drinking water. In June 2022, the federal government admitted that potential health impacts of these PFAS and PFOA chemicals are more extensive than previously recognized. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a new health advisory for four PFA chemicals based on human epidemiology studies that demonstrated that negative health effects could occur at a much lower level than previously thought. A Philadelphia mass tort lawyer represents individuals harmed by forever chemicals.
PFAs in the Water System
Under the new EPA threshold levels, review of state water systems finds alarming levels forever chemicals in nearly a third of systems tested in 2021 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Toxic PFOAs have currently been linked to Horsham Air Guard Station and the Arkema thermoplastic resin plant. In Berks County, a well serving Blue Heron Village, a popular 55 year and older senior home community, had one of the highest PFOA results in the state, reaching 66 ppt.
While water utilities are encouraged to take action to address these excessive levels of toxic forever chemicals through additional filtration, the thresholds noted in the health advisory are not yet legally enforceable. A Philadelphia mass tort lawyer projects that final legislation regarding acceptable levels of PFOA and PFOS will occur within the next one to two years.
PFAS and CERCLA – Cost Recovery Claims to Swell
On August 26th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended designating perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) as “hazardous substances” covered under CERCLA, or the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. CERCLA is commonly referred to as the Superfund, which was enacted by Congress in 1980 to tax chemical and petroleum companies and provide the US federal government the ability to remediate hazardous waste sites. Many believe that the EPA’s proposal to label PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances demonstrates that government is accepting the tremendous evidence that these chemicals are dangerous to public health.
If this proposal is confirmed, the rule will result in a colossal increase in cost recovery claims under CERCLA. Plaintiffs’ lawyers, such as the Wieand Law Firm, will seek to link the chain of causation between forever chemicals and health hazards such as a cancer, liver damage, and immune system impacts. These firms will seek to demonstrate that defendants to these lawsuits, such as DuPont and 3M, understood that their products would release toxins, but chose to sell them to customers knowing that the toxins would contaminate the environment.
What began as lawsuits for forever chemicals in firefighting foam has evolved into a wide array of lawsuits, including mass torts filed by private citizens, on waterway and soil contamination. Claims involving cosmetics, food packaging materials and other consumer products are also popping up. According to Philadelphia mass tor lawyers, since PFAs are purely man-made, it will be difficult for companies to deflect liability if people are injured from these chemicals.
Potential Health Impacts of Forever Chemicals
Studies have linked PFOA and PFOS exposure to effects on the immune system, the cardiovascular system, human development, and cancer. Researchers have also found a link between toxic forever chemicals and a suppression of vaccine response in children.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, PFAs may lead to increased risk of:
- Kidney cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Infant and fetal growth problems
- High blood pressure
- Pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
- High cholesterol levels
- Thyroid disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Decreased vaccine response in children
Can I sue for toxic forever chemicals?
Residents who suffer harm from toxic forever chemicals in their water supply may be able to file a lawsuit to hold companies responsible. There have been multiple lawsuits filed against companies, such as Dupont and 3M, for contamination from these PFAs.
The case that laid the foundation for PFAS litigation was Leach v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., No. 01-C-698. Leach was a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of approximately 80,000 residents who lived near DuPont’s Washington Works manufacturing facilities. The plaintiffs claimed that they had sustained bodily injury from PFAs used in the manufacturing of Teflon that contaminated the water supply.
Dupont was required to fund a health project to gather data and determine whether a “probable link” existed between PFAS exposure and any diseases. In 2011 a review panel determined that a probable link existed between PFAS exposure and several diseases: kidney and testicular cancer, pregnancy induced hypertension, preeclampsia, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol.
Approximately 3,500 members of the original Leach class who had developed one or more of the Probable Link Diseases, filed bodily injury and wrongful death suits which were consolidated into MDL 2433. Dupont chose to take 3 cases to trial, and each case resulted in substantial verdicts for the plaintiffs.
Contact Philadelphia mass tort lawyers at the Wieand Law Firm about Harm from Forever Chemicals
The Wieand Law Firm represents individuals who have been harmed or sustained injury from forever chemicals. Our lawyers will offer a free, private consultation to discuss your concerns and legal options. As more information continues to come to light, it’s anticipated that the number of individuals affected with health problems from forever chemicals will continue to escalate. Call 215-666-7777 today or send a message on the online form to find out more about your legal rights.