3M is one of the most well-known and respected pharmaceutical companies in the world; however, it has had its fair share of legal troubles over the years, including mounting lawsuits related to its manufacture of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which were found to lead to a variety of medical complications. Recently, 3M announced that it will stop producing the toxic chemicals by 2025, but it means that the company will still face significant legal liability related to environmental damage and health impacts of PFAS, which are “forever chemicals.”
Research has shown that these chemicals can build up in the environment and the human body, leading to a host of issues. There are a variety of reasons why the company is moving away from PFAS, and one of the biggest issues is the mounting legal issues that the company continues to face. For example, 3M is responsible for paying out a variety of lawsuits related to water contamination stemming from PFAS. Furthermore, research has shown that exposure to PFAS can lead to cancer and ulcerative colitis, meaning that 3M is responsible for people’s medical bills all over the world. Even though there are a variety of lawsuits the company is facing in the United States, other countries are taking action against PFAS as well.
Traditionally, PFAS was used to resist the build-up of oil, grease, and water. It has been used since the 1940s, and they have been used to make pizza boxes and non-stick pans recently. Unfortunately, PFAS can also be very dangerous. For example, the company was sued by firefighters who believe that PFAS in the foam led to a number of cancers. Furthermore, PFAS have also been used to make equipment that soldiers use when they fight overseas, causing them to develop complications as well.
Right now, 3M has already announced that it is working hard to transition its products away from PFAS, including those that have already been produced and are sitting on shelves. Sadly, that is going to be very difficult to do, as PFAS are “forever chemicals,” which means that they don’t break down that easily. It will be interesting to see what other steps 3M takes to mitigate the damage of PFAS and what other lawsuits could be filed.