Neronha sues 3M, Dupont for promoting PFAS products

By: - May 25, 2023 2:29 pm

PFAS can enter groundwater and food sources which leads to human exposure through drinking contaminated tap water or eating contaminated fish. (Graphic courtesy URI STEEP Superfund Research Program.)

Rhode Island is suing more than a dozen manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, or “forever chemicals.”

Attorney General Peter Neronha announced Thursday that his office has filed a lawsuit in Providence Superior Court, saying that companies like 3M and Dupont engaged in “a massive and widespread campaign to knowingly deceive the public.”

Other companies named in the lawsuit are Dynax, Chemgaurd, and National Foam Inc.

The AG’s office said it is seeking damages from the defendants to cover the costs of mitigation and remediation of PFAS contamination, as well as punitive damages and disgorgement of profits.

“They have broken the law and harmed the people and natural resources of Rhode Island,” Neronha said in a statement. “We intend to hold them accountable for that.”

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), working in conjunction with the state’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and researchers from Brown University, have detected significantly elevated concentrations of PFAS chemicals in numerous public water systems and many private wells near areas where these products were known to be used. 

“Monitoring the pervasiveness of PFAS in our environment is one of DEM’s most pressing challenges to help protect public health and natural resources,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “PFAS science is incredibly complex and emerging rapidly but there is no disputing PFAS’ prevalence in the environment or the harm they cause. 

PFAS have been commonly used in chemical foams used for firefighting, nonstick frying pans, water-repellent fabrics, stain-resistant rugs and other products.

Exposure to PFAS has been associated with various significant negative health effects impacting reproductive health, childhood development, and increasing the risk of certain cancers.

As alleged in the complaint, there is likely contamination from numerous military installations, fire-fighting training sites, and industrial sites such as Naval Station Newport, Camp Fogarty in East Greenwich, Quonset Point in North Kingstown, and the Bradford Dyeing Association site in Westerly.

“We are still uncovering the consequences of exposure to these hazardous chemicals by Rhode Islanders, but the burden of this enormous cost should be borne by the companies who made, marketed, and sold these products at great profit, while hiding their true dangers,” Neronha said.


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Christopher Shea
Christopher Shea

Christopher Shea covers politics, the criminal justice system and transportation for the Rhode Island Current.