Mass. A.G. Lawsuit Says Firefighting Foam Makers Hid Chemical Dangers

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — Attorney General Maura Healey is suing 13 companies that manufacture firefighting foam containing ubiquitous forever chemicals in hopes of getting the chemical companies to "pay back every last dollar our state has spent on their products to clean up the contamination."

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals that do not break down entirely in the environment, and exposure to their long-lasting presence has been linked to serious and negative health impacts like thyroid disease and kidney cancer. PFAS chemicals are all around us; they are used in non-stick cookware, food packaging, children's products, carpets, leather goods, ski wax, firefighting foams and more, and they have leached into drinking water supplies and the soil.

Healey on Wednesday announced a suit, one that will be combined with hundreds of similar suits from around the country, against manufacturers like 3M, Dupont and Tyco.

"Their actions violate state and federal laws that are intended to protect our residents and place costly burdens on our communities that are now forced to clean up this mess. Today's lawsuit joins hundreds of lawsuits around the country from state agencies, municipalities and public and private water districts against the makers of PFAS. These are manufacturers who attempted to hide just how dangerous this foam was, who prevented their workers from discussing the dangers of their products despite the fact that PFAS was toxic. These makers continued to make and sell their products without disclosing the harms, they downplayed the presence of PFAS and the list goes on," Healey said at a press conference with municipal and legislative officials. "It's not only dangerous, it is illegal and that is why I am bringing suit."

PFAS contamination has become an increasingly urgent issue on Beacon Hill in recent years as the ubiquity of the chemicals and their negative health consequences have become better known. The state's PFAS Interagency Task Force last month released its report with 30 specific recommendations that fell under eight general themes: funding PFAS detection and remediation, supporting environmental justice communities, phasing out PFAS from consumer goods, expanding the regulation of PFAS, encouraging private well PFAS testing and remediation, supporting firefighters and fire departments, addressing accountability for PFAS contamination, and enhancing public awareness of PFAS.

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