3M Suing Michigan over Drinking Water Rules

Matthew Donnellon

Photo by mrjn Photography on Unsplash

Many Michigan residents are no strangers to PFAS, the chemical plaguing drinking water in several Michigan water systems.

However, in case you haven’t heard of the chemical compound here is a quick rundown.

PFAS is the shortened form of polyfluoroalkyl substances. The term encompasses a wide range of different matters, “Chemicals in this class of more than 5,000 substances are found in products like nonstick pans (e.g. “Teflon”), food packaging, waterproof jackets, and carpets to repel water, grease, and stains. They’re also used in firefighting foam often used on military bases and at commercial airports. Even personal care products like waterproof mascaras and eyeliners, sunscreen, shampoo, and shaving cream can contain PFAS.”

What is notable about PFAS is that they don’t break down over time, hence the term “Forever chemicals.” They don’t decay in the environment, nor do they break down once they’ve entered the human body causing them to build up over time, which is why they are dangerous to both the environment and to people. In fact, approximately 95% percent of the population has PFAS in their system right now.

PFAS can lead to a host of medical problems, “mounting research links PFAS to a wide range of health problems. Studies of the best-known PFAS, called PFOA and PFOS, show links to kidney cancer and testicular cancer, as well as endocrine disruption in humans. Scientists have also discovered unusual clusters of serious medical effects in communities with heavily PFAS-contaminated water.”

There is even evidence to suggest that PFAS exposure can exacerbate Covid-19 symptoms and possibly reduce vaccine effectiveness.

Industrial giant 3M, the company that first produced the chemicals, is responsible for the cleanup and now they don’t want to pay,:

“3M has sued the state of Michigan, claiming the state’s new drinking water limits for the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS are flawed because they were created through a “rushed and invalid regulatory process.

The lawsuit, filed in the state Court of Claims on April 21, seeks to invalidate the state’s drinking water limits and groundwater cleanup criteria for seven different per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that went into effect last summer.”

3M has challenged multiple states in order to try and get out of cleaning up the mess they created. It is going to a long, expensive process and 3M knows it.

It does not help that 3M has known about the dangers of PFAS since the 1970’s, “A lawsuit filed by Minnesota against 3M, the company that first developed and sold PFOS and PFOA, the two best-known PFAS compounds, has revealed that the company knew that these chemicals were accumulating in people’s blood for more than 40 years. 3M researchers documented the chemicals in fish, just as the Michigan scientist did, but they did so back in the 1970s. That same decade, 3M scientists realized that the compounds they produced were toxic. The company even had evidence back then of the compounds’ effects on the immune system.”

3M is calling Michigan’s rules “scientifically flawed” and that the state regulatory body, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy acted in haste forcing an unrealistic timeline on the company.

It should be noted that had 3M acted in haste, at least some time in the decades they’ve known about this problem, they would not be in this predicament.

Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel commented on the suit, ““We will not tolerate these poisons in our environment and our drinking water, and we will not tolerate a corporation like 3M putting its dollars ahead of our health and our water,” she said.

Hopefully, 3M will be held accountable for their lack of action.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI

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