Read the full article by Timothy B. Wheeler (Bay Journal)

“Baltimore city has filed suit against multiple manufacturers of so-called ‘forever chemicals’ and the companies that put them in firefighting foams, alleging that they knew and concealed the fact that the widely used chemicals were toxic and contaminating water supplies.

The city’s suit was filed on Nov. 3, the same day the city of Philadelphia filed a similar legal complaint. The two cities join more than 100 other public entities nationwide in bringing litigation that seeks to hold the makers and industrial users of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS accountable for the cost of removing them from their drinking water.

In 2021, tests of treated drinking water in Baltimore found a combined concentration of 4.93 parts per trillion of the two most well-known PFAS compounds, PFOS and PFOA, according to the city’s Department of Public Works.

Mayor Brandon Scott, in announcing the city’s lawsuit, said that while the detected PFAS levels were ‘extremely low,’ their presence was sufficient to ‘proactively prepare for future protections.’

PFAS are a group of thousands of widely used and highly persistent chemicals, some of which have been found to cause health problems, including decreased fertility, developmental delays, weakened immune systems and increased risk of some cancers. They’ve been detected in private wells and public water systems throughout the nation, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed, often near military bases, airports and other facilities where PFAS-laden firefighting foam was used either in training or to quench a blaze.

There is no enforceable federal limit on PFAS in water now, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated that it plans to propose nationwide drinking water limits on PFOA and PFOS by the end of 2022. In June, the EPA  proposed new lifetime health advisories for PFOA and PFOS, along with two other PFAS, indicating that essentially any detectable levels of those two compounds pose unacceptable risks to the public.

The lawsuit names 24 companies as defendants, including 3M and other major chemical manufacturers, plus multiple producers of ‘aqueous film-forming foam’ used in fighting fires.” …