You may have heard of a chemical group referred to as PFAS or “forever chemicals” before. This stubborn chemical family has a history of winding up in water, air, fish, and soil across the nation and globe. Once this chemical is released into the atmosphere and distributed throughout our environment, it does not leave. The indestructible nature of PFAS has coined the chemical a harmful reputation to the human body, with studies proving that ingestion or contact with it causes a vast array of medical disorders (including various cancers). The natural distribution of PFAS is often due to waste-water dumping conducted by corporations that utilize the chemical, as it is often a component of the flame retardant fire fighters use in abundance. As a result, the chemicals contaminate our groundwater, and concern for contamination has escalated recently in Massachusetts. On May 25, 2022, Attorney General of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, sued 13 manufacturers for violating both state and federal laws that protect drinking water.
The AG submitted a 74-page complaint with Jury demand on May 25, 2022 that highlights the toxicity of the known carcinogen “PFAS”. The complaint alleges that the manufacturer defendants, “…knew, or if they did not know, should have known, that their AFFF products containing PFOS, PFOA, and/or their precursors were harmful to the environment and human health”(UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT).
Healey’s lawsuit alleges that the negligence of the 13 listed manufacturers contributed to the contamination of “countless” Massachusetts water supplies including, “…more than 126 public drinking water systems in 86 communities with serious levels of PFAS contamination such as in Weymouth, Abington, Rockland, Cape Cod and Stow”(AG Healey Sues).
It is no secret that the PFAS contamination is a national problem, as similar cases of unlawful pollution are recorded across the country. In New Hampshire, PFAS contamination has tarnished the quality of town tap water state-wide. In a recent report by Pennichuck Water, greater Nashua’s primary water treatment facility, “…Nashua’s public water is above the CDC’s health limit of 11 parts per trillion for PFAS, with Nashua’s water at 16 parts per trillion. This is a significant increase from recent years, with 9 parts in 2018 and only 5.2 in 2017”(nhtap.com). Research shows that Nashua isn’t the only NH town suffering the consequences of PFAS contamination, but the steps that Attorney General Healey took in this past year are a leap in the right direction.
Hopefully this lawsuit gets us closer to achieving safe tap water for not only Massachusetts and New Hampshire but nationwide. A higher safety standard must be upheld for manufacturers and corporations responsible for contamination, because everyone deserves clean drinking water.
People sometimes can be injured or made sick by products or negligence of corporations. If you were injured or made sick and want to know your rights, contact the experienced attorneys at Parnell, Michels and McKay.
By: Kylie N. Cloutier, Intern