Lawsuit Against 14 Manufacturers is Raoul’s Latest Lawsuit Over Forever Chemicals
Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today filed a lawsuit against multiple companies that manufacture per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – also known as “forever chemicals” – and PFAS-containing products sold in the state of Illinois as consumer goods and for use in industrial processes. This is Raoul’s latest lawsuit over the impact of forever chemicals in Illinois, following most recent March 2022 lawsuit alleging 3M’s improper handling of PFAS resulted in ongoing contamination at and around its facility in Cordova, Illinois.
Raoul’s lawsuit, was filed in Cook County Circuit Court alleging the PFAS manufacturers have known for decades that PFAS are toxic and pose substantial health and environmental risks, yet continue to actively promote the chemicals as safe to manufacture and use. The lawsuit also alleges PFAS manufacturers distort scientific evidence concerning potential harms associated with PFAS, and that PFAS manufacturers have caused widespread contamination and injuries to Illinois’ natural resources.
“For decades, manufacturers have been aware of the dangers of PFAS yet still promote the chemicals as being safe to use. As a result, PFAS have contaminated our water supplies across Illinois,” Raoul said. “The manufacturers of forever chemicals must be held accountable for the widespread contamination to our natural resources. This lawsuit is an important step toward accountability and protecting the surrounding environment and public health.”
The Attorney General’s latest lawsuit identifies the following additional manufacturers:
While these manufacturing companies are headquartered out of state, all conduct business in Illinois and have allegedly contaminated Illinois’ environment and natural resources.
The complaint builds on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s (IEPA) efforts to sample drinking water supplies throughout Illinois to identify those affected by PFAS contamination. The Illinois EPA sampled finished water community water supplies across Illinois and detected PFAS in 152 of those community water supplies. More specifically, the investigation detected levels of PFAS that were greater than or equal to Illinois EPA’s Health Advisory Levels at 70 entry points. The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges PFAS have also contaminated groundwater and surface water not used for drinking water across the state.
“Through Illinois EPA’s statewide investigation into the prevalence of PFAS contamination in our state’s drinking water, it is clear that PFAS contamination can be found in communities throughout Illinois, as a result of the continued use and manufacturing of these chemicals,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim. “These companies must be held responsible for their actions that have resulted in widespread contamination of our environment. Illinois EPA will continue to work closely with the Attorney General’s office to provide necessary resources and technical support to address PFAS contamination identified in Illinois.”
PFAS are human-made, synthetic chemicals that do not exist naturally in the environment. PFAS are highly toxic to humans and animals, and they are extremely resistant to degradation in the environment, which is why PFAS are known as “forever chemicals.” PFAS contaminants may be linked to serious adverse health effects in humans and animals, including increased serum cholesterol, immune dysregulation, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and kidney and testicular cancers. Exposure to certain types of PFAS is also associated with low birth weight in babies, suppressed immune system response, dyslipidemia, impaired kidney function and delayed onset of menstruation.
Raoul’s lawsuit seeks to recover Illinois’ costs and damages from the contamination. More specifically, it seeks to recover natural resource damages and other monetary damages necessary for state officials to continue identifying, monitoring and remediating PFAS contamination of Illinois’ environment, as well as restoration of natural resources. Monetary damages could also be used to further address PFAS contamination and restoration of natural resources throughout the state.
Division Chief Matthew Dunn, Bureau Chief Stephen Sylvester, Supervising Attorney Ellen O’Laughlin and Senior Assistant Attorney General Karen Howard are handling the case for Raoul’s Environmental Bureau. In addition, attorneys representing DiCello Levitt LLC, Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL, and Fields, Han & Cunniff, PLLC will co-prosecute the case as special assistant attorneys general.