Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced the filing of a lawsuit against twenty-one chemical manufacturing companies, including 3M and DuPont, for contaminating our state’s natural resources and jeopardizing public health by manufacturing and distributing polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Developed in the 1940s, PFAS chemicals have been widely used for decades in a wide variety of water- and grease-proof products like nonstick cookware, carpets, clothing, and outdoor gear. Because of that, they are ubiquitous, commonly found in the environment and in the blood of nearly all Americans.
Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are mostly known for their resistance to oil, heat, water and other elements. PFAS have contaminated our air, soil, surface water, groundwater, drinking water, wetlands and other natural resources. Once PFAS are introduced into our environment, they quickly spread and easily dissolve into our water systems, making them extremely difficult and expensive to remove. PFAS has also been scientifically proven to increase the risk of liver damage, thyroid disease, obesity, infertility and cancer.
The twenty-one defendants named in the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Torrez have all contributed to the contamination of New Mexico’s environment through their continued production and distribution of PFAS. They have continued to manufacture these deadly chemicals despite knowing for decades that these substances pose a significant risk to human health.
“I will not permit our air and water to be polluted or public health to be jeopardized by corporations who care more about quarterly profits than the well-being of our communities,” said AG Torrez. “This lawsuit will change the way large companies do business in our state–they need to know that we are watching and will fight to protect New Mexicans and our natural resources.”
The defendants knowingly marketed and advertised their products, aware that they would harm human health and the environment. The defendants concealed the harmful side effects of their products containing PFAS and publicly contradicted the risks to gain enormous profits. In addition to their intentional deceptiveness, manufacturers never advised their customers how to properly dispose of PFAS, resulting in the product being stockpiled at some of the known contaminated sites in New Mexico.
The effect of PFAS is put into context as their impact on the Highland Dairy in Clovis resulted in the euthanization of their entire herd (3,665 cows) because their milk was contaminated as a result of the PFAS that they had ingested. The estimated loss of revenue and increased expenses was nearly 6 million dollars.
I will not permit our air and water to be polluted or public health to be jeopardized by corporations who care more about quarterly profits than the well-being of our communities.”
Attorney General Raúl Torrez
“PFAS manufacturers profited at the expense of the health of New Mexicans for decades,” said New Mexico Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “This lawsuit aims to stop the ongoing damage to the people, environment, and economy of our state while holding those who reaped the financial rewards of this contamination accountable.”
“PFAS chemicals are not called ‘forever chemicals’ for nothing. They do not degrade, these poisons are everywhere in our environment, even in our bodies. The suit by Attorney General Torrez and Cabinet Secretary Kenney is an important step to forcing companies to reign in the use of these chemicals and find alternatives,” said Camilla Feibelman, Director of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter.
“New Mexico’s air, land, waters, wildlife, and communities are regularly–and knowingly–assaulted by toxic pollution from oil and gas production, mining, weapons production, and commercial activities like dry cleaning,” said Conservation Voters New Mexico Executive Director Demis Foster. “We applaud the Attorney General for taking on this tough but necessary fight to hold PFAS manufacturers accountable for the damage these insidious chemicals have caused and will continue to cause.”
The lawsuit is alleging public nuisance, negligence, products liability, violations of the unfair practices act and other claims. The state is seeking for defendants to pay all costs associated with the cleanup and treatment of our natural resources.
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