Nine state attorneys general filed lawsuits in May and June against chemical manufacturers like 3M and DuPont de Nemours for allegedly knowingly promoting, producing and selling products containing harmful “forever chemicals.”
Attorneys general of the nine states – Tennessee, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Arizona and Rhode Island – filed the lawsuits between May 25 and June 5.
The new suits add to the growing list of state attorneys general lawsuits suing chemical manufacturers for allegedly contaminating their natural resources with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Earlier this year, state attorneys general from Maine and Illinois filed lawsuits. Other states that have sued since 2019 include Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin, according to New York University's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.
The lawsuits seek that the companies pay past and future costs to investigate, assess, monitor, remediate and restore contaminated locations, property and natural resources. For some states, the attorneys general requested that the states be reimbursed for their response to the PFAS contamination.
“As alleged, these companies concealed from the public, regulators, and consumers the dangers posed by these chemicals and now their chemicals have infiltrated virtually everywhere from our waterways to our bloodstream,” Rhode Island Attorney General Neronha said in a statement on May 25 announcing the state’s lawsuit. “We intend to hold them accountable for that.”
While the nine states that most recently sued are pursuing various chemical companies, all are going after DuPont de Nemours, Corteva, EIDP and The Chemours Co., accusing them of shielding their assets to avoid liability by restructuring and spinning off their businesses.
DuPont has made several corporate restructuring moves in recent years. In 2017, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., DuPont’s former formal company title and referred to as “Old DuPont” in court documents, merged with Dow Chemical Co. for $130 billion. The plan was to break up the conglomerate into three different businesses.
Two years later, the conglomerate was dissolved and broke into three separate entities: DuPont de Nemours, a specialty products business referred to as “New DuPont” in court documents, Corteva, an agriculture business, and Dow, a materials science business.
Chemours, which produces Teflon used for non-stick pans, was spun off from Old DuPont as a separate entity in 2015 before the merger.
Corteva changed the name of its subsidiary, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., to EIDP in January 2023 as part of its separation from DowDuPont in 2019.
The lawsuits claim the companies fraudulently transferred their assets to other businesses to avoid paying debtors or in this case, the states in question.
As the list of states suing over PFAS grows, chemical giants have begun settling some of the cases related to forever chemicals contamination. Last month, DuPont, Corteva and Chemours reached a $1.2 billion settlement agreement to resolve all PFAS-related drinking water claims against them.
Additionally, 3M reached a $10.3 billion settlement last month over allegations that it contaminated public water supplies across the U.S. with PFAS.