Read the full article by Cheryl Hogue (Chemical & Engineering News)

“3M will implement tighter controls to curb the release of fluorochemicals from its factory in Decatur, Alabama, under a consent orderbetween the company and the state. The company will also run toxicity studies on five per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) it manufactures.

The order, which involves no monetary penalty unless 3M fails to meet its terms, is focused on dozens of PFAS entering water, air, and soil from the plant. It stems from 3M’s 2019 disclosure that the facility, which manufactures specialty chemicals, polymers, energy-efficient window films, and plastics, was illegally discharging PFAS into the Tennessee River. The legal deal, completed July 24, requires 3M to beef up its wastewater treatment to filter out PFAS before the water is discharged into the river.

The order also calls for 3M to design and install technology that will capture or destroy PFAS emissions from the plant. Airborne PFAS can deposit in water and soil at considerable distances from an emission source. The order requires 3M to first study feasibility of emissions control technologies and report to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management on which option the company is selecting. 3M must install the technology within 3 years once the department OKs the plans.

In addition, 3M will test private wells near the facility for the presence of PFAS. For wells contaminated above health advisory levels of the US Environmental Protection Agency or any set in the future by Alabama, 3M must offer to connect the well owner to a public water system or otherwise provide suitable water supplies. Last year, 3M paid $35 million to fund a water filtration system for a Decatur water utility and to settle a lawsuit.

In what may be a first-of-its-kind move under a state order on PFAS, 3M will also conduct toxicity testing of five PFAS it makes: perfluorobutane sulfonamide (FBSA); a derivative of FBSA that 3M calls FBSEE; nonafluoro-N-(2-hydroxyethyl)butane-1-sulfonamide (FBSE); 2-(perfluorobutanesulfonamido)ethanol (FBSE); and phosphonium salts of two fluorinated butanesulfonamides (TBBP-MeFBSA and TPBP:MeFBSA). FBSA is a precursor to perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), an environmentally persistent chemical linked to adverse thyroid and kidney effects in laboratory animals that has been detected widely in drinking water, waste water, and food packaging, according to the EPA…”