Clean drinking water is essential for survival. In the United States, it is easy to take for granted that all have access to this basic need. In some areas, however, water contamination has caused devastating illness and limited clean water resources. Populations in areas with high levels of chemical contamination like Flint, Michigan, have been advised not to drink or cook with the water coming out of their own taps.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a health advisory for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroctane sulfonate (PFOS). These potentially harmful chemicals are part of a family of compounds known as polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, used for decades in a variety of commercial products, including:
PFOA, also known as C8, can also be released when other chemicals, such as those used in water-, stain- and grease-resistant products, break down. These compounds tend to accumulate in groundwater and drinking water near facilities where they are used in manufacturing, putting the population in these areas at risk for contamination. The EPA has set the health advisory level at 70 parts per trillion (ppt) to help protect residents from long-term PFOA and PFOS exposure. The agency’s original advisory called for a maximum level of 400 ppt, but later lowered the standard on the basis of expanding research.
The health effects of PFOA and PFOS have been widely studied. The C8 Science Panel, created through the settlement of a class-action suit against DuPont, established probable links between PFOA and PFOS and a number of health issues, including:
PFOA and PFOS have high bioaccumulation rates and can remain in the body for years before they are flushed out. Most Americans have a low level of PFOA in their blood, but prolonged exposure can result in serious illness.
Concerns about the negative effects of PFOA and PFOS contamination have led to decreased usage, with global emissions reduced by about half since 1999. In 2006, the EPA established a program to encourage companies to make this transition, with the goal of eliminating their usage by 2015. Manufacturing giant 3M Co. discontinued the company’s use of similar compounds in 2002, but there are still many companies utilizing PFOA and PFOS. DuPont, Honeywell International, and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics have all faced major lawsuits in recent years as areas surrounding their facilities have reported contamination rates as high as 18,000 ppt.
Local and state governments have also come under fire for failing to notify residents in a timely matter that they may be at risk. The EPA conducts regular tests and informs government officials if their area is contaminated. However, unless immediate action is taken, including notifying affected populations and providing bottled water, residents may continue using contaminated water and not realize they are being exposed to toxic chemicals until it is too late.
Our water contamination lawyers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey at Williams Cuker Berezofsky believe that everyone deserves access to safe drinking water. We are here to help if your community suspects PFOS contamination or PFOA contamination is endangering your water supply. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is responsible for your toxic exposure and pursue the compensation to which you are entitled.
Our knowledgeable, dedicated lawyers have experience with all types of environmental toxic tort cases, including water contamination. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients both locally and nationally. Call us today at 215-557-0099 or 856-667-0500, or contact us online for a free consultation.