Florida sues chemical companies over PFAS health risks

Florida is suing the makers of some fire-fighting foams, accusing them of polluting the environment and potentially making people sick with chemicals.

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office filed a lawsuit in mid-April in Hillsborough Circuit Court. State attorneys accuse several companies, including DuPont de Nemours, Inc.; Chemours FC, LLC; Tyco fire products; and Chemguard, Inc. – to use materials that could put people at risk of cancer and other diseases. The substances are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals”.

The companies, the attorney general’s office said, did not warn customers or the public of the danger.

The Florida case follows similar lawsuits from other states and agencies, including Tampa Bay waterwhich oversees much of the region’s drinking water, and the Hillsborough County Aviation Authoritywhich oversees Tampa International Airport.

Attorney General’s office spokeswoman Kylie Mason declined to comment, saying “the case is active and ongoing.” When asked why the attorney general, who is from Plant City, dropped her off at Hillsborough, she replied: “There are several places in the state where there have been contaminations, and Hillsborough is the ‘one of those affected areas.’

READ MORE: Firefighting chemicals are a health risk at many sites in Florida. Only four have been tested.

Moody’s complaint lists several locations in Florida where firefighting foams were used, including the Miami Dade College Fire Academy.

Some other places: the Florida State Fire College in Ocala, the Pensacola Fire Department and the Hillsborough Community College Fire Academy. Foams have been used for decades to put out fires that burn liquid fuel at military bases, airports and industrial properties, the lawsuit says.

Moody’s office charges the makers with multiple torts, including negligence and creating a public nuisance. State attorneys wrote that the dangerous chemicals may have seeped into the ground and contaminated drinking water.

The foams contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, according to the complaint. Called PFAS or “chemicals forever,” these substances take an extremely long time to break down in the environment. They have also been used in products such as Teflon and Stainmaster carpets, according to the state lawsuit.

READ MORE: County wells closed near Miami International Airport due to chemical issues

Lifelong chemical exposure may be linked to problems including thyroid disease, kidney and testicular cancer, and high cholesterol, according to the lawsuit. Moody’s office says the manufacturers knew or should have known that the fire-fighting foams would endanger people and the environment.

The complaint does not specify how much Florida is seeking for compensation or other penalties, but it does say the state has already incurred costs to investigate the contamination and plans more spending on environmental cleanup and disposal. helping sick residents.

In a statement, a spokesperson for DuPont de Nemours said it was “a new multi-industry specialty products company” that did not sell fire-fighting foam itself. The spokesperson said “the complaint is without merit”.

Moody’s filing accuses DuPont of having “a transfer scheme” of assets to shield itself from liability and make it harder for states to recover money. Lawyers say DuPont violated Florida’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.

A Tyco spokesperson said the company “does not comment on ongoing litigation.” Representatives for Chemours did not return multiple emails seeking comment. A Chemguard spokesperson did not return multiple voicemails.

This story was originally published May 3, 2022 11:06 a.m.