Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFAS) Contamination in Groundwater Subject of Increasing Litigation

Posted on April 15, 2022 in Product Liability


Major corporations often use unsafe chemicals to manufacture common consumer products we use every day. Unfortunately, it’s often too late when we learn that these toxic chemicals have endangered our health. When you or a loved one experiences adverse health issues caused by contaminated groundwater, you need an experienced product liability lawyer who can stand up to these corporations and hold them accountable for their actions.

Call a Gallagher & Kennedy product liability lawyer at 602-530-8400 or reach out to us online to schedule your free consultation today. We can help you understand your rights and potential remedies when you have suffered injuries after being exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Understanding PFAS Contamination

PFAS actually stands for Polyfluoroalykl Substances, a type of Perfluorinated Chemicals, which is more aptly known as “PFCs.”  PFCs and PFAs are synthetic compounds containing thousands of chemicals called Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). PFCs and PFAS have valuable water-resistant and flame-retardant properties that manufacturers have long used in common products such as firefighting foam, and more widely used consumer goods such as food packaging, cosmetics, and clothing. These long-lasting, “forever” chemicals are made of components that break down extremely slowly over time, which leads to a significant environmental impact in areas where these chemicals are used.

Research Continues to Reveal Harmful Effects of PFAS

Recent research has increasingly linked PFCs and PFAS exposure to harmful health conditions. For example, the C8 Science Panel, which arose out of litigation between DuPont and West Virginia communities over contaminated drinking water, studied the health effects of PFOA between 2005 and 2013. That research revealed links between PFAS and cancer, development delays, and in-vitro effects on fetuses.

Most PFAS litigation has occurred against manufacturers such as 3M and Dupont. In most cases, these lawsuits have arisen from groundwater contamination from PFAS and firefighting foam from PFAS exposure. However, litigation is now accelerating as research increasingly suggests the connection between PFAS exposure and cancer and other serious negative health effects. Just as the EPA can rely on scientific research that shows  links between PFAS and harmful health effects to place limits on PFAS, product liability attorneys can use this research to show how PFAS has harmed those exposed to it. In this manner, product liability attorneys can hold PFAS manufacturers liable for the harm they have caused to consumers.

EPA Intends to Propose Limits on PFAS Discharges

Amid the research linking PFAS to numerous harmful health effects, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will propose rules in 2022 to limit the amounts of PFAS that can be discharged from effluent (liquid waste or sewage discharged into a river or the sea). These rules would affect wastewater facilities that manufacture the substances and facilities that electroplate chromium (chrome plating technique that protects metal from corroding and scratching, such as in cookware). EPA plans to finalize these rules by 2023. Furthermore, EPA intends to designate PFOA and PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or the Superfund law.

EPA’s actions concerning PFAS are expected to set off a wave of litigation. Once EPA can identify landfills as contaminated with certain levels of PFAS, the Agency can identify it as a Superfund site and enforce a clean-up. Since this can cost millions of dollars, waste management companies are likely to point the finger at the companies who have been depositing PFAS into their landfills over the years to recoup some of their costs. If this occurs, EPA is likely to initiate enforcement or litigation against those manufacturers. In any case, the proposed EPA regulations will likely increase litigation concerning PFAS contamination.

Litigation Growing as PFAS Groundwater Contamination Becomes Increasingly Common

Perhaps most importantly, the pervasive drought in the Western United States has increased awareness of the risks of groundwater contaminated by PFAS. As drought causes the flow of streams and rivers to decrease, municipalities must increasingly rely on groundwater from aquifers and wells. Increased reliance on groundwater has shed light on the potential for PFAS contamination and how municipalities must take steps to ensure that the drinking water is safe. This has also led to an increased desire to hold accountable those responsible for contaminating groundwater with PFAS.

Contact a Chemicals Contamination Attorney at Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A. Today

You can rely on an Arizona product liability attorney at Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A. to provide you with the legal advice and representation you need if you or your family members have suffered injuries due to PFAS contamination or other defective products. We are here to represent your interests and handle your legal issues so that you can focus on your physical health. Call our offices at 602-530-8400 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help.