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Attorney general files lawsuit against chemical companies over PFAS

Chemicals linked to risks to health by Will Langhorne | June 6, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Attorney General Tim Griffin addresses the media during a press conference in Little Rock in this Thursday, March 16, 2023 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Stephen Swofford)

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin on Monday filed a lawsuit against more than 30 chemical companies he claims are responsible for spreading throughout the state so-called forever chemicals that are linked to serious health problems.

The lawsuit, filed in Washington County Circuit Court, accuses chemical giants including 3M, DuPont, Corteva and Chemours of contaminating the state's natural resources, including drinking water and soil, with perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

Most PFAS, which are widely used in industry and consumer products, do not break down. Rather, these chemicals linger in the environment and are found in the blood of people and animals across the world. Research has suggested PFAS may weaken immune responses, affect the liver and increase risks for certain types of cancer, according to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

"PFAS present significant threats to Arkansans and our natural resources," said Griffin in a news release. "They are toxic at extremely low levels. The defendants bear ultimate responsibility for the presence of PFAS in our state, which have caused and will continue to cause injury to property owned and maintained by the state."

The lawsuit comes after Chemours, DuPont and Corteva agreed to pay more than $1 billion on Friday to settle claims that PFAS contaminated public drinking water across the U.S. The companies in statements have denied the allegations in the underlying litigation.

Chemical companies are facing legal challenges from hundreds of communities over PFAS. Other attorneys general from states including Rhode Island and Maryland have recently filed suits.

"Arkansas joins many states, cities and water providers that have sued these companies, targeting them for product liability, deceptive trade practices, public nuisance and negligence. We are seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief," said Griffin in the statement.

Griffin's lawsuit includes seven counts of alleged violations, including strict liability of supplier for defective design, strict liability -- failure to warn, the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, public nuisance, negligence -- failure to warn, negligence -- failure to recall and violation of the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act.

Griffin noted in the news release that PFAS have been used for decades and may be found in a laundry list of products, including food packaging, water-repellent fabrics and non-stick coatings.

In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed drinking water regulations for six PFAS, which it anticipates finalizing by the end of the year.

The agency said in a statement it expects the regulations will "prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious PFAS-attributable illnesses" if fully implemented.

PFAS received heightened attention last year when the EPA issued interim health advisories for certain PFAS after finding that the levels at which the chemicals could cause negative health effects are "much lower than previously understood."

Print Headline: Arkansas files suit in spread of PFAS


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