BALTIMORE, Maryland — Two lawsuits have been filed in the state of Maryland in an effort to hold multiple chemical manufacturers accountable for their alleged continued contamination of the state water supply with "forever chemicals."
Attorney General Anthony Brown announced the lawsuits Tuesday on behalf of the State of Maryland, the Maryland Department of Environment, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Maryland Department of Health.
The lawsuits allege that through the "manufacture, marketing, and sale of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or 'forever chemicals,' these corporations, including 3M, DuPont, and others, caused PFAS contamination of the State’s environment through multiple pathways and put Maryland residents’ health at risk."
Officials say one lawsuit addresses contamination caused by PFAS present in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), more commonly referred to as "firefighting foam."
The second lawsuit addresses contamination caused by PFAS from non-AFFF sources.
Both lawsuits allege that the defendants knew the dangers associated with their PFAS products many decades ago. Yet, despite that knowledge, continued to keep the risks secret and failed to alert anyone.
Officials say companies continued to pursue profits through the manufacturing, marketing, and sales of their PFAS products in Maryland knowing the risks.
“Protecting the health and well-being of Marylanders and the environment in which we live and raise our families is one of my top priorities,” said Attorney General Brown. “Access to safe drinking water, a clean environment, and the precious natural resources of Maryland will not be jeopardized by those who put profits above public health and safety. These corporations must pay to clean up the damage and be held accountable for the harms they have caused.”
Officials say exposure to PFAS in humans and animals has been linked to several diseases, including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and low birth weight. It may also impair the immune system, including the immune response to vaccines.
PFAS pose a serious threat to human health, as they are not just present in drinking water, but can also be ingested, inhaled, and even absorbed through the skin.
Officials claim PFAS are estimated to be detectable in the bloodstream of 99% of the U.S. population.
“Those who would choose to pose a risk to Marylanders' well-being must be held accountable,” said Gov. Wes Moore. “By filing these claims, Maryland is making clear that we value health, safety, and preserving our state's precious natural resources for future generations over corporate profits.
Officials say PFAS has been used since the 1940s in industrial settings and in the production of household and commercial products that are heat-resistant, stain-resistant, and water and oil-repellent.
The most widely studied PFAS chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, have been shown to be toxic at very low concentrations.
PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not readily biodegrade or chemically degrade and remain in the environment for hundreds or even thousands of years.
Officials say both lawsuits allege a number of claims, including defective design, failure to warn, public nuisance, trespass, and negligence.