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Litigation

U.S. class-action case targets nine PFAS makers

Suit seeks creation of science panel to review evidence of health harm

by Cheryl Hogue
October 10, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 41

 

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Credit: Shutterstock
The lead plaintiff in the class-action suit is a firefighter whose protective gear contains per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances.

A firefighter is leading a class-action suit against nine manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs).

The defendants named in the suit are 3M, Archroma, Arkema, Asahi Glass, Chemours, Daikin, Dyneon, DuPont (now officially DowDuPont), and Solvay.

The proposed class encompasses residents of the U.S. who have a detectable level of PFASs in their blood serum and claim they are injured from this exposure. The companies did not get plaintiffs’ permission before exposing them to PFASs, the suit says.

Lead plaintiff Kevin D. Hardwick has worked as firefighter for more than 40 years, according to the complaint. Hardwick’s exposure stems in part from his firefighting gear, which is coated or treated with PFASs, as well as his use of firefighting foams containing these substances.

The suit, filed Oct. 4 in federal trial court in Ohio, seeks the creation of a panel of scientific experts that would evaluate evidence and determine any probable link between PFAS exposure and human health problems.

This request is fashioned after one in a 2004 class-action settlement with DuPont regarding exposure to one PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), that was released from a plant near Parkersburg, W.Va. That science panel found probable links between PFOA and several health problems.

In 2017, DuPont and its spin-off Chemours agreed to pay $670 million to settle 3,550 PFOA-related personal injury suits in Ohio and West Virginia.

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Comments
lana (Fri Oct 12 10:57:34 EDT 2018)
If I recall correctly, the fluorinated compounds used to waterproof garments are VERY different from the fluorinated substances used in surfactants for firefighting foams, and both are not the PFOA that the Parkersburg panel suggested might have health impacts.
Is this new case claiming harm from residual PFOA...or 'all that 'fluorinated" stuff'?

I seem to recall reading that firefighters have pretty high cancer rates, and documented occupational risk factors (shift work, inhaled combustion products etc)...even before the widespread use of fluorinated foams or water-repellents.
Lori Chilers (Tue Oct 16 07:26:36 EDT 2018)
EPA Site: PFAS can be found in:

Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.
Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).
Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.
Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).
Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.
Elle (Tue Oct 16 22:23:36 EDT 2018)
It may not be PFOA, but there are over 4,750 different chemicals in the PFAS family. They are used in waterproofing, AFFF, fast food wrappers, nonstick items, the list goes on and on. PFOS sand PFOA are just the most studied at this point, but there are at least 4,748 more.

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