January 14th, 2020
Sites contaminated with PFAS chemicals are being identified across Michigan and the country. These chemicals are particularly concerning because of their mobility, longevity, and links to serious health effects such as liver damage, cancers, auto-immune diseases, and more. PFAS chemicals are commonly found in firefighting foam used by airports, military bases, and firefighters, as well as household items that create non-stick surfaces, like Scotchgard, Teflon, and food wrappers. Unfortunately, these contaminants have made their way into Michigan’s environment and drinking water in large part due to reckless action from polluters. As a response to this behavior, Attorney General Dana Nessel, with the support of Governor Whitmer, sued 17 individual companies including 3M and DuPont. This is significant as it is the first legal action on behalf of Michigan residents against PFAS contamination.
In the lawsuit, AG Nessel claims the 17 defendants harmed the health of Michigan residents by concealing the dangers of PFAS and knowingly using PFAS and PFAS-containing materials that would eventually contaminate natural resources and expose the public to harm. The complaint states the companies knew, or should have known, these chemicals would persist in the environment for a long period of time and become concentrated inside plants and animals. The suit also states the companies should have been aware of the potential or confirmed carcinogenic effects of these “forever chemicals,” and that the continued production of PFAS would increase levels in the environment and people’s bodies. To ensure Michigan residents receive the best representation, AG Nessel hired three nationally known law firms to support her department with assembling the case. It is worth noting former Attorney General Bill Scheutte was directed by former Governor Rick Snyder to prosecute 3M for similar behavior, but Schuette declined. Fortunately, AG Nessel took a much different approach.
We thank AG Nessel for defending the public health of millions of Michigan residents by holding bad actors accountable who contaminate Michigan’s environment.