UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — Published Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Everyone seems to be getting on the lawsuit bandwagon, per se, and law firms have been sending out signals they are ready to fight the big chemical companies by representing thousands, if not millions of plaintiffs who have been severly impacted by PFAS. Some have won against these chemical companies with settlements into the millions, if not billions of dollars awarded against these corporations which produce the highly lethal chemicals in the products they sell to consumers, first responders, military and the list goes on.
These PFAS, which are also called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down easily in the environment or the human body, and can accumulate over time.
Over the years, several studies have shown that exposure to PFAS above certain levels, particularly perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfate (PFOS), is associated with various adverse health effects. This includes, but is not limited to, certain cancers, suppressed antibody response, reproductive problems and thyroid hormone disruption. PFAS chemicals are highly durable and can persist in the environment and the human body for years if exposed. (Source: National Association of Counties)
(left) Seattle Firefighters set-up spray their airbottles after on the scene of a hoarder house (circa unknown). (c) NWFB
IAFF vs. NFPA Lawsuit
The International Association of Fire Fighters or IAFF for short has taken on the National Fire Protection Association Inc, the agency which recommends on standards for both volunteer and professional firefighters. which has sued the agency to hold it liable for not removing the dangerous test from its STandard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighter in [Standard 1971].
“The very gear designed to protect firefighters, to keep us safe, is killing us,” said General President Edward Kelly. “Standard 1971 needlessly requires the use of PFAS in fire fighter gear.”
The lawsuit was filed in Norfolk County Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts which is seeking damages and other relief.
“It’s about removing the cancer-causing chemicals in our gear and finding justice for our brother and sister members,” said Kelly.
They say it is their attempts in eradicating cancer-causing testing and stop cancer from spreading in their ranks. Many of those have had line-of-duty-deaths due while on the job and passing from getting cancer.
Though many are suing the manufacturers, the IAFF is suing the NFPA which states these standards are required for firefighters use to save their lives while wearing these types of clothes on the job.
MA’s Attorney General Lawsuit of Her Own
According to the State of Mass.gov website, then AG Maura Healey sued 13 manufacturers on May 25, 2022, who produce poly- and perfluoroalkyl (PFAS) “forever” chemicals used in firefighting foam for causing millions of dollars in damages to communities across her State and by knowingly contaminating drinking water sources, groundwater and other natural resources. These sources had been contaminated with highly toxic PFAS chemicals which pose a great threat to the health and well-being of the people and the environment they all live in.
The AG filed her lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, which alleges manufacturers repeatedly violated state and federal laws protecting drinking water and prohibiting consumer deception by marketing, manufacturing, and selling PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) to government entities, counties, municipalities, local fire departments, businesses and residents in Massachusettes while knowing of the serious dangers these chemicals pose. | Source: MA State Government website: https://www.mass.gov/news/ag-healey-sues-manufacturers-of-toxic-forever-chemicals-for-contaminating-massachusetts-drinking-water-and-damaging-natural-resources
3M PFAS Lawsuit
The 3M PFAS lawsuit is one of the environmental class actions to watch in 2020. Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals used in products like Teflon cookware, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, outdoor equipment, Scotchgard stain protectants on carpets and upholstery, Gore-Tex water-resistant shoes and clothing, polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and firefighting foam. The Environmental Working Group has confirmed PFAS drinking water contamination at 328 military bases so far.
Source: Source: S Howard Law Office, https://showardlaw.com/3m-pfas-lawsuit/
PFAS Act for First Responders of 2022
On December 20th, the President signed into law the Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act (S.231). The bill directs the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish guidance, education programs and best practices to protect firefighters and other emergency response personnel from exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from firefighting foam and prevent the release of PFAS into the environment.
Source: National Association of Counties (govt), https://www.naco.org/resources/urge-congress-and-epa-consult-counties-any-future-regulations-pfas-0
PFAS Action Act of 2021
On July 21, 2021, the House and in Congress passed the H.R.2467 Bill during the 117th Session of Congress (2021-2022)
This bill establishes requirements and incentives to limit the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, and remediate PFAS in the environment. PFAS are man-made and may have adverse human health effects. A variety of products contain PFAS, such as nonstick cookware or weatherproof clothing.
The bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate the PFAS perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as a hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, thereby requiring remediation of releases of those PFAS into the environment. Within five years, the EPA must determine whether the remaining PFAS should be designated as hazardous substances.
The EPA must publish human health water quality criteria under the Clean Water Act for each measurable PFAS and class of such substances and establish standards to limit discharges of PFAS from industrial sources into waters of the United States. In addition, the EPA must issue a national primary drinking water regulation for PFAS that, at a minimum, includes standards for PFOA and PFOS.
Among other requirements, the EPA must also issue a final rule adding PFOA and PFOS to the list of hazardous air pollutants, test all PFAS for toxicity to human health, and regulate the disposal of materials containing PFAS. The EPA must also require PFAS manufacturers to submit analytical reference standards for PFAS. The EPA and states may use those standards for (1) the development of information, protocols, and methodologies, and (2) activities relating to the implementation of enforcement of requirements.
Finally, the bill provides incentives to address PFAS, such as grants to help community water systems treat water contaminated by PFAS and grants to schools for testing and filtrating PFAS from drinking water.
Source: Congrress, https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2467
PFAS Act (S.231) Passed Protects Firefighters
The Public Law No. 117-248 formerly the S.231 was signed by the President of the United States on December 20, 2022 after it was passed in the House on December 1, 2022, and Passed in the Senate on July 29, 2021.
Source: Congress Bills, https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/231/actions
HB 22-1345 (Colorado) Signed into Law
On June 3, 2022, the Colorado State Governor signed this bill after it was passed by the House of Representatives HB 22-1345.
Source: CO House Representatives, https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb22-1345
U.S. States Follow Suit
About a half of dozen State Attorney Generals have followed suit by filing their own lawsuits against these companies in an attempt to recoup millions, if not trillions of dollars for those who have been severly impacted or even killed by these fatal PFAS.
State of Virginia (HB3189)
HB 3189 is the PFAS Protection Act, targeting PFAS—known as “forever chemicals ” in drinking water. It follows on the heels of a Department of Environmental Protection Study ordered in 2020, performed by the U.S. Geological Survey. Under new EPA drinking water advisory numbers, 137 of the state’s 279 raw water intakes showed levels above EPA advisory levels.
Under the new direction ordered in the bill, DEP will go back, resample the finished (treated) water from those sites and try to determine the sources. Industries that use PFAS chemicals must report their usage to the DEP. And DEP will, to the extent data is available, consider ways to address the sources and mitigate the impacts on public water systems.
The Senate adopted a Government Organization Committee rewrite on Wednesday and passed it 32-0 on Thursday. It returns to the House for concurrence.
The White House is on Board
The White House announced the Biden-Harris Administration has proposed the first-ever National Standards to Combat PFAS in Drinking Water. It was officially announced on March 14, 2023.
Here is the official presser on this important topic.
Source: The White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/03/15/what-they-are-saying-biden-harris-administration-proposes-first-ever-national-standards-to-combat-pfas-in-drinking-water/
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