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PFAS Pollution From Nearby Chemical Plant Led to Child With Brain Damage, Developmental Problems, Lawsuit Claims

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The parents of a child born with severe health problems indicate that exposure to poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) released from a nearby chemical plant left their baby with brain damage and developmental problems.

The complaint (PDF) was Kimberly and Richard Bond in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on July 8, naming Solvay Specialty Polymers, Solvay Solexis, Inc., Arkema, Inc., Du Pont De Nemours & Company, Chemours Company, and 3M Company as defendants.

According to the lawsuit, Kimberly Bond ingested and was otherwise exposed to high levels of PFAS due to releases from Solvay’s West Deptford Facility and DuPont’s Chamber’s Works Facilty, both in New Jersey, which manufactured polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), which is a PFAS compound. The lawsuit claims that, as a result of the exposures, their child Christina Bond was born with brain damage, severe cognitive delays, profound speech impairment, neurological defects, scoliosis, pemphigus, and chromosome one deletion.

The lawsuit indicates Christina Bond, born in 1978, has a complete inability to care for herself, and suffers profound mental anguish and an inability to enjoy life’s pleasures. While Solvay has run the facility since 1990, it was owned by Arkema, Inc. when Bond was born.

PFAS were first introduced into the manufacturing industry in the 1940’s, because of their ability to resist heat, grease, stains, and water. However, since then 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.

PFASs are chemical substances used to manufacture a number of products, including some firefighting foams, food packaging materials, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, fabrics, nonstick cooking pans, and other products. The firefighting foam has been regularly used at military bases nationwide over the past decade during routine fire extinguishing exercises, and is increasingly used by civilian firefighters.

The chemicals are projected to take thousands of years to degrade, and past studies have shown their ability to enter and stay in the environment and human body through the air, dust, food, soil, and water. Previous U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies have shown PFAS chemicals primarily settle into the blood, kidney and liver, and could likely be detected in the blood of 98% of the U.S. population.

This latest lawsuit indicates high levels of PFAS were found in the water supply and soil where the Bond family lived.

“Studies report that PFAS exposure have the capacity to cause testicular cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, autoimmune disorders, endocrine disorders, developmental and genetic defects to fetuses, developmental defects to breastfed babies, reduced vaccine response, increased cholesterol, and increased liver enzymes,” the lawsuit states. “People who consume PFAS via drinking water and are otherwise exposed accumulate increasing concentrations of PFAS in their blood.”

In June 2019, a federal investigation found that PFAS chemicals are commonly found in numerous food products, including meats, seafood, chocolate, cake and other products. However, the FDA released a statement indicating that the levels found do not raise health concerns, based on the best available science.

According to findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012, exposure may also suppress the immune system and limit the ability of the body to create antibodies in response to childhood vaccines.

PFAS manufacturers are facing a growing number of  firefighting foam lawsuits filed in federal courts nationwide, involving allegations that former fire fighters have been left with cancer following exposure to the chemicals during training exercises and in response to certain fuel-based fires.

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