House Lawmakers Call for Extensive EPA Analysis of PFAS Health Risks

Amid growing evidence that PFAS may cause cancer and other health risks, lawmakers are concerned about the increasing number of product containers being sold to the public that contain the toxic chemicals.

A group of U.S. House Representatives are demanding that federal regulators conduct a thorough investigation into the health risks associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in fluorinated containers, indicating that there is not enough known about the toxic effects of exposure to the chemicals.

PFAS include a group of over 9,000 man-made substances that have been widely used for decades, to resist grease, oil and water. Since they are known to persist in the environment and build up in the human body, they are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” and there is growing evidence linking exposure to a myriad of adverse health effects, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression, and cancer.

While most of the attention on the chemicals has focused on the use in firefighting foam, which has resulted in widespread water contamination around military bases, airports and firefighter training locations, PFAS are also found in a number of consumer products, including food containers, bottles and wrappers.

3M Company and other manufacturers of PFAS chemicals, currently face thousands of firefighting foam lawsuits and PFAS water contamination lawsuits alleging that they have concealed findings that indicate the chemicals are highly toxic, and internal corporate documents uncovered during the litigation have revealed the manufacturers knew of the risks and health consequences since at least the mid-1970s, and continued to hide the truth from the public.

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Firefighting Foam Lawsuits

Exposure to firefighting foam chemicals may result in an increased risk of cancer for firefighters, military and airport personnel.


On July 25, a group of 12 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter (PDF) to Michael S. Regan, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling for the agency to investigate the risks of PFAS exposure, particularly from fluorinated containers.

“EPA is mandated by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to address the risks of new PFAS and significant new uses of existing PFAS,” the letter states. “The TSCA program is now facing a major test of this authority from the submission of nine Significant New Use Notices (SNUNs) by Inhance Technologies, a Texas company that fluorinates plastic containers.”

The lawmakers warn that the fluorination process for certain plastic containers involves the use of at least 13 different PFAS, including some, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which have been determined to be likely carcinogens.

Enhance alone fluorinates more than 200 million containers per year, according to the letter, which are used in numerous consumer and industrial packaging. The group notes that testing indicates these PFAS can leach from the containers into human bodies and drinking water. In addition, they warn that the facilities where fluorinated containers are manufactured also pose a safety and exposure risk to workers and nearby communities.

“The far-reaching public health implications…require EPA to conduct a rigorous, comprehensive and transparent assessment of the risk of PFAS in fluorinated containers,” the lawmakers state. “It would be a serious setback for public health if an EPA risk assessment were to be conducted with limited public engagement and incomplete evidence, resulting in continued PFAS formation during fluorination and lack of protection of the exposed population.”

The lawmakers called for the EPA to answer a series of questions posed in the letter by September 1.

They want the EPA to address how it will ensure that SNUN reviews are informed by leading PFAS experts, whether it will conduct an independent peer review of SNUN risks, whether the agency will review the safety risks to workers, and other questions about the EPA’s risk assessment process for these products.

August 2023 PFAS Lawsuit Update

Earlier this summer, a lawsuit brought by a Florida water provider was scheduled to go before a jury to help gauge how juries were likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that would be repeated throughout PFAS lawsuits currently being pursued against chemical manufacturers and fire safety equipment manufacturers. However, in advance of the trial, a $12.5 billion PFAS settlement was reached to resolve claims brought by local water suppliers.

3M Company, DuPont, Tyco Fire Products, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company and other manufacturers of firefighting foam and protective equipment continue to face individual personal injury lawsuits over the side effects of PFAS exposure, which are currently centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, as part of a federal MDL or multidistrict litigation, since they each raise common questions of fact and law.

The U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation has directed the parties to select a group of 28 representative personal injury claims for an PFAS exposure injury bellwether pool, involving plaintiffs who say they were exposed to chemicals that contaminated drinking water.

These cases will include eight kidney cancer claims, eight testicular cancer claims, eight thyroid disease claims and four ulcerative colitis claims. However, they will be limited to individuals alleging they were exposed to contaminated water near Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base and the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminister.


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