3M says it will stop PFAS-product manufacturing
Chairman and Chief Executive Mike Roman says PFAS can be used safely but describes the regulatory and business environment as "rapidly evolving"
By Thomas Gnau
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Corporate manufacturing giant 3M said Tuesday it will end the manufacture of products with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance) chemicals — sometimes called "forever chemicals" — by the end of 2025.
"This is a moment that demands the kind of innovation 3M is known for," said 3M Chairman and Chief Executive Mike Roman. "While PFAS can be safely made and used, we also see an opportunity to lead in a rapidly evolving external regulatory and business landscape to make the greatest impact for those we serve."
PFAS was once widely used in nonstick frying pans, water-repellent sports gear, stain-resistant rugs, firefighting foam and elsewhere. The substance was voluntarily phased out in the U.S., but it remains in some products and in the environment. They are sometimes called "forever chemicals" due to their resistance to breakdown in the environment.
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this year started to promulgate new, stricter standards for the presence of PFAS in water.
The chemicals have taken on some prominence in the Dayton area, with three area cities pursuing lawsuits against the government and against manufacturers. Fairborn and Bellbrook have both sued 3M and other companies, alleging PFAS contamination or potential contamination of water sources.
Bellbrook is seeking damages for the remediation, treatment, and monitoring of "ongoing contamination of its water resources," alleging that "actions and/or inactions" of the defendants led to the chemicals being released into the city's groundwater.
Earlier, the city of Fairborn filed a similar suit against 32 chemical manufacturers for allegedly contaminating one of the city's back-up wells with the chemicals. And in the spring of 2021, Dayton filed its own $300 million lawsuit against Wright-Patterson Air Force Base over water contamination.
The city of Dayton's lawsuit against Wright-Patterson and the DOD was moved to a federal court in South Carolina in August 2021. The case docket has shown no activity since then, as of last week.
3M said it will discontinue manufacturing all fluoropolymers, fluorinated fluids and PFAS-based additive products, facilitating an "orderly transition" for customers while fulfilling contracts.
The company said it has reduced its use of PFAS over the past three years, and it maintains that its products are safe for their intended use.
Addressing the lawsuits, 3M said it will "continue to remediate PFAS and address litigation by defending ourselves in court or through negotiated resolutions, all as appropriate."
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