Baltimore City Files Water Pollution Lawsuit Against Makers of Toxic PFAS Chemicals

Baltimore City Files Water Pollution Lawsuit Against Makers of Toxic PFAS Chemicals

Baltimore became one of those communities on November 1, when the Mayor and Baltimore City Council filed a complaint (PDF) in the Federal District Court of Maryland, seeking to hold several chemical companies and safety equipment manufacturers liable for the contamination of the city’s drinking water.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include 3M Company, EI Du Pont De Nemours and Co., Corteva, Inc., Chemguard, Inc., Tyco Fire Products, Raytheon Technologies, BASF Corp. and several others.

“Defendants designed, manufactured, marketed, promoted, distributed, supplied, and/or sold PFAS-based aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) products, and certain chemical ingredients incorporated into those products, that were used and released in and near of Baltimore and now contributing to a serious public health and environmental crisis,” the lawsuit says. “Defendants knew that these hazardous chemicals would be released into the environment during normal and intended use of their AFFF products, causing harm to the City, its residents, and those within the service area of ​​the City systems. of water of the City, among others”.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants failed to instruct AFFF users on the need to take proper precautions to limit exposure and failed to provide adequate instructions about potential risks. The city also accuses manufacturers of not using less toxic compounds to make firefighting foam that they knew would enter water supplies and impact the environment.

Baltimore seeks compensatory, consequential, and punitive damages to pay for past, current, and future costs of PFAS in drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater supply systems, and for damage to property and resources. under the city administration.

PFAS Health Concerns from Fire Fighting Foam

PFAS were first introduced to the manufacturing industry in the 1940s due to their ability to resist heat, grease, stains, and water. Since then, however, the chemicals have been linked to a myriad of adverse health effects, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression, and cancer.

PFAS chemicals are expected to take thousands of years to degrade, and previous studies have shown their ability to enter and remain in the environment and the human body through air, dust, food, soil and water. Previous studies by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that PFAS chemicals are deposited primarily in the blood, kidneys, and liver, and are likely to be detected in the blood of 98% of the US population

The chemicals are used to make a number of products, including some food packaging materials, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, fabrics, nonstick pans, and other products. However, it is perhaps best known for its use in firefighting foams used by military and civilian firefighters.

November 2022 Fire Fighting Foam Water Pollution Lawsuit Update

Given the common questions of fact and law raised in the claims, all PFAS chemical water contamination claims at AFFF are currently centralized before US District Judge Richard M. Gergel in the District of South Carolina, for coordinated discovery. , pre-trial proceedings and a series of pioneering trials, which are expected to begin next year.

Early in the pre-trial proceedings, Judge Gergel has established a “pioneer” program that started with a cluster of water contamination cases going through the discovery of specific cases in preparation for a series of early trial dates, which are expected to begin in mid-2023.

If the parties fail to reach an AFFF lawsuit settlement agreement after pretrial proceedings and preliminary trial trials are completed, or if the litigation is otherwise resolved, the cases will be returned to their federal judicial districts. of origin for trial.

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