Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) are a collection of over 7,000 manmade chemical compounds. These compounds are known by many as “forever chemicals” due to their high persistence and mobility in the environment. Environmental interest groups, public health advocates, and various other industry groups have debated the potential health effects of exposure to PFAS over the past couple of years. Knowledge of the threshold level required to cause disease, the exact routes of exposure, and the ways PFAS move in the environment is still studied and quite a lot is unknown.
A group of researchers at the Environmental Protection Agency recently worked with the Ohio State University to collect water samples near a fluoropolymer production plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The group analyzed PFAS’ mobility in the air. The results surprisingly showed that there were elevated levels of PFAS several miles away from the manufacturing plant. This particular plant initially used the PFAS compound perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”), later switching to hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (“HFPO-DA”). The researchers found concentrations of both these compounds up to 30 miles away from the manufacturing plant. Despite the fact that the plant phased PFOA out of production years ago, the researchers still found extremely high levels of the compound in surrounding waters in this recent study.
The knowledge that PFAS can be carried up to 30 miles away from a manufacturing facility drastically increases the reach of possible bodily injury claims that could be brought in the future. Residents living within that wide bubble around facilities that manufacture PFAS or PFAS-containing products could claim that they were put at risk. The fact that PFAS can so readily be carried by the winds combined with its incredible persistence in the environment will likely lead to a wave of claims. Industries with possible PFAS risk should remain up to date on the constantly evolving regulations at the federal and state levels to make sure they are not caught behind.
CMBG3 Law is following judicial, legislative, and administrative developments relating to PFAS. More information about the services we can provide to ensure your business is ready for any intersection with these substances can be found on our PFAS Litigation page.
Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact any of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team: Jessica Deyoe, Suzanne Englot, Alexandra Fraher,or John Gardella.