Lawsuits Allege Water Contamination and Birth Injuries
Two lawsuits have been filed in relation to polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. One alleges that PFAS was introduced into the environment and subsequently tainted a local water supply. The other alleges that exposure to PFAS caused birth injuries to at least one woman.
The defendants in these lawsuits include major companies like 3M Company, Chemguard, Inc., Du Pont, Tyco, Kidde, and others. While the claims in each lawsuit are quite different, what they have in common is dangerous contamination and exposure to toxic chemicals like PFAS and related chemicals.
Lawsuit Claims Firefighting Foam Tainted Water Supply
The first lawsuit related to PFAS involves the Pico Water District in California. The Water District is suing 3M, Du Pont and others to recover damages necessary to protect the public and restore a healthy water supply.
The lawsuit alleges that for years, these companies released chemicals from firefighting foams into the environment. The chemicals do not degrade, and therefore, entered storm water, surface water and groundwater supplies. Now, the Water District has found these chemicals in the wells that supply the area. The level of chemicals found exceeds California’s regulatory limits.
The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants knew they would be disposing of chemicals in the vicinity of wells and the water supply, but they failed to take necessary precautions to protect the public. Fire departments, training facilities and airports in the area all used these chemicals and released them or byproducts in areas where they would interact with water sources.
Lawsuit Claims PFAS Caused Birth Injuries
The second lawsuit was filed by a plaintiff who claims that exposure to PFAS in utero caused her congenital birth injuries, including a heart defect and a brachial plexus injury. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs parents lived in an area of New Jersey that was proximate to several companies that produced products containing PFAS, polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), sodium perfluorooctanoate (NaPFO) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
The plaintiff claims that her family was exposed to these chemicals through airborne dispersion, soil contamination, groundwater, surface water and vapor intrusion. She believes that exposure to these toxic chemicals during her mother’s pregnancy affected her fetal development.
Several of the defendant companies are known to have released toxins on and off-site, including near the plaintiffs home. The lawsuit claims that these companies knew that the chemicals were toxic and did not take precautions to protect the public. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has found PFAS and other chemicals in nearly 1,000 private wells in the area.
The Dangers of PFAS
PFAS are chemicals that are man-made and are often used in the manufacturing of consumer products. The chemicals most common include PFAS, PFOA and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid). Some of the products that most commonly contain PFAS and related chemicals include:
- Non-stick cookware
- Stain-resistant fabrics
- Firefighting foam
- Products that are resistant to water, grease and oil
During manufacturing, these chemicals can leak into the air, water and soil. They are “forever chemicals” because they never break down. Instead, they remain in the environment indefinitely. Because the use of these chemicals is so widespread, they are commonl in the blood of humans and animals, in food products and in water supplies.
For many years, researchers have explored the link between PFAS and harmful health impacts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies the following possible health impacts from PFAS exposure:
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Changes in liver enzymes
- Decrease in infant birth weight
- Decrease in vaccination response in children
- Increase in the risk of high blood pressure or preeclampsia in women
- Increase in the risk of kidney and testicular cancers
Unfortunately, there are a lot of variables among these studies, including the people, levels of exposure and the type of PFAS. That means more research is necessary to know exactly how these substances affect humans.
Getting Help with Birth Injuries
There are many possible causes of birth injuries, and toxic exposure is certainly one of them. However, most birth injuries are due to poor medical care, such as:
- Poor prenatal care
- Inadequate prenatal care
- Undiagnosed complications of pregnancy
- Undiagnosed or untreated fetal distress
- Improper use of birth-assisting tools
In any case, if you or your child have suffered a birth injury, you should take the opportunity to explore your legal rights. Contact Birth Injury Guide to learn more, or to start a free case review with one of our birth injury lawyers. Call us toll free at 877-415-6603.