Since 2005, more than 6,400 PFAS-related lawsuits have been filed. This type of heavy litigation presents a huge threat to companies that use PFAS, including E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., as well as 3M Co., Chemguard Inc., Kidde-Fenwal Inc., National Foam Inc., and Dynax Corp.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, shortened to PFAS, are durable and water-repellant. Some of the most common types of PFAS that are sold on the market today are Teflon and Scotchguard. These products have been around since the 1950s, and gained in popularity due to their durability and water-repellant properties. Unfortunately, despite being mainstays in many homes for decades, it has become apparent that PFAS can cause health problems and environmental damage due to the chemicals that the products contained.
Starting in 2005, lawsuits started being filed, primarily against E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., due to these health issues and environmental damage. However, in the last few years we have seen more and more lawsuits being filed against other companies that manufacture PFAS products. Individuals are suing these companies for the health issues their products may have caused, while city governments, including the City of Anaheim, California, is suing for damage done to the environment by these products.
Some estimates state that the liabilities for PFAS could reach in excess of $30 billion dollars. Obviously, this would be a worst-case scenario. but based on the large amount of damage that has been done and the sheer number of cases and companies involved, there could be major financial repercussions, which could lead to major companies being unable to survive and going out of business.
As the lawsuits make their way through the courts, it is becoming apparent that the courts are starting cases off based on the role that companies had in manufacturing PFAS products. For example, some of them only made surfactants, while others were finished product manufacturers. Companies that had a role in both parts, such as 3M, are expected to get hit the hardest in the lawsuits.
Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding PFAS lawsuits, but as they make their way through the courts, it will be interesting to see if damages are awarded and how companies manage to survive.