AG Raúl Torrez files lawsuit against companies’ use of ‘forever chemicals’
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez is taking a stand against so-called “forever chemicals” and the companies that produce them.
“Given the fact that these companies have known for decades, exactly how dangerous these chemicals are, it is simply inexcusable for them to continue to place profits over people,” Torrez said.
On Thursday, Torrez’s office filed a new lawsuit targeting 21 companies who reportedly continued producing toxic PFAS chemicals despite knowing the health risks. 3M and Dupont are the most notable companies named in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is demanding the companies pay for PFAS cleanup projects in New Mexico as well as damages to New Mexicans.
“Whether you live work or play in New Mexico, the point is, is that we’re taking bold action today, and we’ll continue to do that to hold polluters accountable,” New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney said.
Polyfluoroalkyl substances – aka PFAS – are man-made compounds used in hundreds of everyday products. The chemicals were first developed in the 1940’s following World War II. The compounds are known to repel oil/grease and water while also being heat-resistant. Because of those properties, the chemicals are used in products like non-stick pans, fast food containers, cosmetics, paint and firefighting foam among many others.
According to the CDC, many PFAS chemicals have been phased out of production and use in the United States; however, other countries may still use them to produce certain products.
The big problem with PFAS chemicals – they do not break down into other compounds naturally.
PFAS chemicals exist in a toxic state forever. The compounds have been found in soil samples, groundwater supplies and according to a CDC study, in the blood of at least 97% of Americans.
“It literally is surrounding us almost on a daily basis,” Torrez said.
PFAS chemicals are linked to dozens of medical conditions in almost every part of the body. The toxins are also connected to several types of cancer.
“With each new study done by outside experts or government officials, the level of toxicity the level of potential harm associated with this family of chemicals has only grown more dire in terms of the potential impact to human health,” Torrez said. “This is why we felt it was necessary to initiate an action.”
PFAS contamination has been a concern for the AG’s office for years. Torrez confirmed Thursday lawsuits targeting PFAS groundwater contamination near Canon and Holloman Air Force Bases are still ongoing.
There are multiple efforts to reduce existing PFAS chemicals in the environment.
Researchers at Sandia National Labs are developing a specialized filter that can reportedly remove 99% of PFAS chemicals from water.
Officials say the technology can be used in large-scale operations as well as household settings. The research team recently received a $100,000 grant to continue their work.
Researchers at Northwestern University recently discovered at least two PFAS chemicals can be broken apart using a low heat technique. It’s worth noting there are more than 12,000 known PFAS compounds.