If you believe exposure to PFAS chemicals resulted in the development of cancer, or caused your child’s birth defect, call Thornton Law Firm’s PFAS Attorneys at 888-491-9726 for a free consultation or tell us your story here.
Thornton Law Firm is a nationwide leader in cutting-edge toxic tort litigation, representing thousands of people who have suffered a serious personal injury or illness from exposure to hazardous chemicals and other toxic substances at work or at home. We represent hundreds of children born with catastrophic birth defects in groundbreaking litigation against the companies responsible for the toxic exposures of their parents. We fight for the parents of children who were exposed to glycol ethers in semiconductor “clean rooms”, pesticides in agriculture, a variety of chemicals used in manufacturing, and land and water supply contamination.
What are PFAS?
Perfluoroalkyl (or polyfluoroalkyl) substances, or PFAS for short – are a family of chemicals that are repellant to water, grease, or stains. An increasing number of health studies suggest that PFAS may be responsible for many different kinds of illnesses, including cancers and birth defects. Because they don’t break down in the environment or our bodies, they are known as the “forever chemicals”.
The first, and perhaps most famous PFAS is Teflon, developed by DuPont in the 1940s. Since then many consumer and commercial products have been produced containing PFAS, including:
- Firefighting foam
- Stain-resistant coatings for fabric, carpets and furniture
- Cleaning products
- Food containers made of grease-resistant paper, like fast-food containers, pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, and candy wrappers
- Water resistant clothing
- Cosmetics and other personal care products (shampoo, dental floss)
- Paint, varnish & sealants
- Other nonstick cookware
Health effects of PFAS contamination
In the body, PFAS generally settle into the blood, kidney, and liver. Many health conditions have been associated with repeated exposures to PFAS, including:
- Increased risk of certain cancers, including liver, kidney, pancreatic and testicular cancer
- Birth defects in children born to families exposed to PFAS
- Women face an elevated risk of breast cancer
- Liver damage
- Low birth weight, diminished growth and behavioral effects in infants and older children
- Decreased fertility, or infertility
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Endocrine disruption
- Digestive disorders
- Autoimmune disease
- Resistance to childhood vaccines
Where are we exposed to PFAS?
PFAS have been shown to accumulate in the ground, in drinking water, and in the animals and plants we consume. Recent sampling has found groundwater near many military and industrial sites has been contaminated. The more people are exposed to PFAS, the more PFAS build up in the body, a process called “bioaccumulation”. These forever chemicals continue to build up in the body over the years.
Studies have shown that not only do PFAS chemicals last forever, they travel a long way in the environment. PFAS end up in our bodies, in the ground, in the air, and in the water. Perhaps the greatest risk to our health is at or near the military and industrial locations where PFAS chemicals are produced or used.
Sites where groundwater is contaminated with PFAS
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) maintains a map of sites contaminated with PFAS in the United States. You can view the EWG map at this link.
Recent research has lead to the discovery of more than 700 (and counting everyday) sites where PFAS contamination has been discovered in groundwater, surface water, and soils in America’s cities and towns. Major sources include military installations, airports, and locations where PFAS chemicals were manufactured. Prominent sites include 3M Corporation’s Cottage Grove Minnesota factory (and associated dump sites), DuPont/Chemours companies’ Washington Works Facility in Parkersburg, WV, and hundreds of military installations across the United States.
Groundwater contamination at or near military bases and airports
PFAS are used in Fire Fighting Foam and in other applications on Military bases and other airports. Three large PFAS sites in Massachusetts are:
- Joint Base Cape Cod, bordered by the towns of Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee, Sandwich and Barnstable, MA(formerly known as Otis Air National Guard Base, Camp Edwards, and Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod)
- Former Naval Air Station, South Weymouth, MA, bordered by Abington, Rockland, Holbrook and Braintree, MA
- Hanscom Field/Hanscom Air Force Base, Bedford, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln, MA
Firefighter and military PFAS exposure
Firefighters including U.S. military firefighters are exposed to significant amounts of PFAS. A type of firefighting foam called Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) which is used to contain fires fueled by oil, gas and other petroleum sources contains high levels of PFAS. Once used, the firefighting foam residue remains and contaminates the ground and water where it was used. In addition, firefighting gear is also treated with PFAs to make it water and petroleum repellant.
Manufacturers of PFAS
In the United States, there are 8 major manufacturers of PFAS:
- 3M Company
- Solvay Solexis Inc.
Perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are the two most commonly manufactured PFAS compounds. These 8 companies (above) produce PFOA in the United States: only 3M produces PFOS in the U.S.
EPA regulation of PFAS
The EPA does not yet fully regulate PFAS chemicals, despite releasing the “EPA’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan” in February of 2019. The document outlines the EPA’s future plans to establish a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) process for PFOS and PFOA, which will set the federal legal threshold under the Safe Drinking Water Act for the amount of PFOS and PFOA allowed in public water systems. The EPA also plans to propose federal drinking water monitoring, and to explore adding PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory, which would make information about reports of certain PFAS releases publicly available.
Trust Thornton Law Firm’s toxic tort attorneys to help
Do you live near a military or industrial site that may be a source of PFAS contamination? Have you or family members experienced any health effects related to PFAS exposure?. Contact the Boston law firm of Thornton Law Firm online or at 1-888-491-9726 for a free consultation with one of our dedicated attorneys who specialize in toxic tort litigation:
Led by David Strouss, Thornton Law Firm’s team of toxic tort lawyers represents hundreds of plaintiffs in lawsuits against chemical companies for birth defects, cancers, and other injuries caused by exposure to chemicals and toxins. The consultation is free. You will receive a fair and accurate assessment of your case from a recognized leader in toxic tort and birth defect litigation.