What are PFAS?
PFAS stands for polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances—a group of chemicals that include PFOA and PFOS, and which previously went under the names PFCs, FCs, and fluorocarbons. DuPont introduced non-stick Teflon-coated cookware in 1946. From this seemingly harmless cookware sprang thousands of waterproof, non-stick, stain-repellent items filled with PFAS. There are currently some 5,000 varieties of PFAS substances; the Environmental Working Group notes that hundreds of thousands of everyday consumer products are currently being made with these “highly toxic fluorinated chemicals,” which build up in the human body and never break down in the environment.
How Harmful are PFAS?
Even small doses of PFAS have been linked to various forms of cancer, reproductive damage, and immune system harm—to name just a few. Chemical companies are responsible for covering up evidence of the health hazards associated with PFAS for decades, and today nearly every American—including newborn babies—has these chemicals in their blood. Even worse, as many as 110 million of those in the United States may currently be drinking water which is tainted with PFAS. Decades of heavy use have resulted in the contamination of soil and water with these chemicals which never break down in the environment—and remain in human and animal bodies for many years.
DuPont Settled PFAS Claims in 2017 for $671 Million
The Business and Human Rights Resource Center reports that by 2015, there were more than 3,500 pending lawsuits against DuPont for PFAS-related diseases. After five test cases found in favor of the plaintiffs, DuPont settled the lawsuits in February 2017 for more than $671 million—while admitting no wrongdoing. People exposed to drinking water tainted with PFAS—particularly military families who live on or near military bases—continue to come forward alleging harm. The PFAS chemicals are leaching into the groundwater around military bases, resulting in a serious, life-threatening health crisis for many of these family members. The issue on military bases centers around the firefighting foam used in training exercises—and full of PFAS—on virtually every military base in the country.
Medical studies have shown PFAS can lead to:
- Low infant birth weights;
- Many types of cancer, particularly kidney and thyroid cancers;
- High blood pressure;
- A compromised immune system;
- Reproductive disorders, and
- Disruption of thyroid hormones.
What is the EPA Doing About the PFAS on Military Bases?
The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, announced that the EPA had a plan to deal with the PFAS-contaminated drinking water around the military bases, but since that time no real progress has been made. Further, while the EPA sets a “safe threshold” of PFAS and PFOAs in drinking water as “not to exceed 70 parts per trillion,” the Department of Health and Human Services claims that threshold should be 7 parts per trillion—substantially lower than what the EPA has deemed acceptable. As of August 2017, the Department of Defense had identified 126 military installations in the United States with a known or suspected release of these dangerous chemicals.
Changes the Government Should Make Regarding PFAS
Despite the fact that other countries, like Australia, have shifted to firefighting foams which do not contain PFAS, our military has thus far refused to do so. This leaves these military families outraged, feeling betrayed, and believing their only line of defense is to sue those responsible. Those affected by the PFAS in groundwater (and it is believed that there are potentially hundreds of thousands more affected) believe our government should:
- Find out where the harmful PFAS chemicals are coming from;
- Stop adding PFAS to the environment by banning the firefighting foam and other consumer products which contain the chemicals;
- Determine where PFAS chemicals are already in use;
- Make polluters pay to take back and safely dispose of the chemicals;
- Stop approving any new PFAS chemicals;
- Add PFAS to the Superfund cleanup laws, and
- Set enforceable limits for PFAS in tap water.
Getting the Help You Need Following Exposure to Dangerous PFAS
The PFAS lawsuits are expected to continue to increase, with consumers being diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after exposure to these toxic chemicals. Those diagnosed with a disease like cancer nearly always need financial assistance. Your client’s ability to get treatment for their injuries and assistance with their PFAS-related injury expenses can, unfortunately, be limited. However, help can come from USClaims. At USClaims, pre-settlement funding can help your clients pay those unexpected expenses related to cancer or other PFAS-related illnesses (including medical costs and lost wages) in anticipation of a court judgment or settlement. Call 1-877-USCLAIMS today for the information you and your clients need and deserve.