Read the full article by Carey Gillam (The Guardian)

“Last month, an Ohio court certified a class action lawsuit brought by lawyer Rob Bilott that would cover 7 million people – and at some point possibly everyone living in the United States – who have been exposed to certain hazardous ‘forever chemicals’ known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS.

The chemicals have been linked to cancer, birth defects, kidney disease and a range of other human health problems. They are called ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not naturally break down, persisting indefinitely in the environment.

Two types of PFAS – PFOA and PFOS – have been found to be so harmful that they are being phased out of use. In addition to US multi-national company 3M, the class action lawsuit names 10 other companies that produce PFAS, which are used to make cookware, food packaging, water-resistant fabrics, firefighting foam and other products. The Biden administration last year pledged to undertake a massive PFAS mitigation strategy at a cost of more than $10bn.

The Guardian spoke to Bilott about his lawsuit. The remarks have been edited for length and clarity.

You have spent 20-some years now focused on exposing the danger of a class of chemicals we call PFAS, using litigation to try to hold companies involved in spreading PFAS accountable, and pressuring regulators to step up and do more to protect the public. You’ve written a book, Exposure, been featured in the New York Times as ‘The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,’ and your legal battle has been made into a Hollywood movie called Dark Waters, as well as a documentary. Why are you so passionate about this issue?

This is a worldwide public health threat. It’s very frustrating when you step back and you look at the science that has gotten even clearer over the years about how dangerous these chemicals are and how widespread their use is. The companies knew that if they put these chemicals out into the world they were going to get into our water, into our soil, into the wildlife, into us, yet they did it anyway. And now, after making billions of dollars for decades, those same companies are fighting any responsibility and trying to shift the cost of cleaning this mess up on to all of us. I’m trying to do what I can to make sure that not only is the health threat addressed but that the right people, the ones who actually caused the health problems, are held responsible – not all of us.”…