A PFAS lawsuit is a legal claim against corporations like DuPont or 3M for contaminating drinking water with potential carcinogens and causing cancer in innocent victims.
To be eligible for our PFAS lawsuits, you must meet both of the following conditions:
- You had at least six months of exposure to PFAS-contaminated water sources in either:
- East Los Angeles, California
- San Jose, California
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- New Jersey, and/or
- You have been diagnosed with either:
- bladder cancer,
- kidney cancer,
- liver cancer,
- pancreatic cancer,
- testicular cancer, or
- ulcerative colitis.
In this article, our PFAS attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is PFAS?
- 2. Can PFAS cause cancer or other diseases?
- 3. Does the government limit PFAS in drinking water?
- 4. How does it get in my water?
- 5. Can I get tested for PFAS in my blood?
- 6. Can I sue if PFAS made me sick?
- 7. What money can I get if I sue?
- 8. What should I do if I am a PFAS victim?
1. What is PFAS?
PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. They are man-made chemicals used to manufacture a variety of consumer products such as:
- nonstick cookware
- paints and polishes
- water and stain-resistant fabrics, carpet, and upholstery
- food packaging
- flame retardants
PFAS chemicals are commonly called forever chemicals because they do not break down. Instead, PFAS accumulate in
- soil, and
- the air.
Consequently, PFAS ends up in food and drinking water. And with repeated exposure, humans and animals accumulate PFAS in their blood.
Note that these two types of PFAS are no longer made in the U.S.:
- PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid)
- PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid)
However, other countries still make them.1
2. Can PFAS cause cancer or other diseases?
Possibly. Animal studies show that PFOA exposure heightens certain cancer risks, and human studies suggest a correlation between developing cancer and proximity to PFOA-related chemical plants.
- In 2017, IARC (the International Agency for Research on Cancer) classified a type of PFAS called PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) as a possible human carcinogen. (The IARC is part of the World Health Organization, called WHO.)2
- In 2016, NTP (National Toxicology Program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services) concluded that PFOA and PFOS are “presumed to be an immune hazard to humans.”3
- In 2005, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) stated there is “suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity” of PFOA based on animal studies.4
In addition to causing certain cancers, studies suggest that PFAS may have other ill-health effects such as:
- higher cholesterol
- liver damage
- decreased fertility
- higher asthma risks
- thyroid disease
- hormone imbalance
- compromised immune systems
- learning problems in children
- lower birth weight in infants
- lower vaccine efficacy in children
- higher risks of pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure in pregnant women5
3. Does the government limit PFAS in drinking water?
No. The EPA established lifetime health advisories for the following four PFAS in ppt (parts per trillion):
- PFOA: .004 ppt
- PFOS: .02 ppt
- GenX chemicals: 10 ppt
- PFBS (perfluorobutane sulfonic acid): 2,000 ppt
However, these advisories are not enforced. If your local drinking water exceeds these concentration levels, consider using activated carbon water filters or bottled water to minimize your health risks.6
4. How does it get in my water?
The PFAS contamination of drinking water primarily occurs through industrial waste discharge.
Companies that manufacture or make use of PFAS may release their waste into rivers or streams. Though even when waste gets dumped on the ground, rainwater will still cause it to settle in underground aquifers.
High levels of PFAS are most often found in areas near:
- fire training facilities (due to the PFAS in firefighting foams, a.k.a. AFFF or aqueous film-forming foam);
- military bases and other industrial areas (due to PFAS in hydraulic fluids); and
Some of the biggest culprits that have released PFAS into the environment are:
- DuPont (the creator of Scotchgard)
- Chemour Company
- Wolverine World Wide Inc.
- National Fire Foam Inc.
- Buckeye Fire Equipment Co. Chemguard Inc.
- Kidde-Fenwal Inc.
- Tyco Fire Products LP
- Daikin Industries Ltd7
According to the Environmental Working group, nearly 3,000 locations in the United States are PFAS water contamination sites.8 It is possible to remove most PFAS from drinking water systems either through:
- granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration,
- ion exchange, and
- reverse osmosis
However, these remediation processes are very expensive.9
5. Can I get tested for PFAS in my blood?
Yes, you can ask your doctor to order a test to show PFAS levels. Though note that PFAS blood tests are not routine, and it is unlikely that your health insurance will cover the costs.
Also, the available PFAS blood tests can only detect a few dozen types of PFAS. This is a small fraction compared to the thousands of PFAS that may be in your body.
Labs that currently offer PFAS blood testing include:
- AXYS Analytical (through blood serum),
- EmpowerDX (home finger-prick test), and
- Eurofins (through blood serum)
Even if your results show low levels, you still may have a strong case that your local drinking water caused your cancer or ulcerative colitis.10
6. Can I sue if PFAS made me sick?
Yes. If you were diagnosed with cancer or ulcerative colitis from PFAS in your drinking water, you may have grounds to sue the corporations responsible for the PFAS contamination. The specific defendants in your case will depend on your location, but the most common ones are PFAS manufacturers 3M and DuPont.
Typical causes of action in PFAS litigation lawsuits are:
- failure to warn
- design defects
- public and private nuisance
- unjust enrichment11
It is possible your lawsuit will be combined with other similar lawsuits into an MDL (multi-district litigation). Similar to class actions, MDLs are a legal mechanism for speeding up the litigation process so that victims can get a settlement as soon as possible.
In an MDL, there is one federal judge assigned to all the cases. Once all the discovery (evidence gathering) and pretrial motions are done, a few of the cases will go to trial – called “bellwether trials“.
Then based on how these bellwether trials turn out, both sides will negotiate a global settlement.
7. What money can I get if I sue?
Shouse Law Group is pursuing the biggest monetary settlement possible to cover the following:
- all your medical-related expenses, including treatments, hospital stays, and home health care;
- lost wages from being unable to work while you are sick or in treatment; and
- pain and suffering, which is often the greatest expense.
If your family member died from PFAS-related cancer, then we would also seek damages for loss of support and funeral expenses as well.
8. What should I do if I am a PFAS victim?
Contact us at Shouse Law Group to discuss your case. Please have the following information ready:
- The addresses of where you lived and worked where you were exposed to PFAS chemicals; and
- The dates that you lived and worked at these addresses; and
- The date you were diagnosed with cancer or ulcerative colitis
If our personal injury attorneys file a case on your behalf, you pay no money unless our law firm secures you a settlement. That way, as plaintiffs you have nothing to lose and everything to win.
- Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) Factsheet, CDC. gov. PFAS Explained, EPA.
- PFAS Exposure and Risk of Cancer, National Cancer Institute.
- Immunotoxicity Associated with Exposure to Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) or Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), NTP.
- Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), and Related Chemicals, American Cancer Society.
- Our Current Understanding of the Human Health and Environmental Risks of PFAS, EPA. See note 1.
- Questions and Answers: Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA, PFOS, GenX Chemicals and PFBS, EPA.
- Sylvia Carignan, Creating ‘Forever Chemicals’: A Guide to PFAS Companies (2), Bloomberg Law (Feb. 13, 2020).
- Update: Mapping the Expanding PFAS Crisis, EPG.
- Overview of Drinking Water Treatment Technologies, EPA.
- PFAS blood testing: What you need to know, Silent Spring Institute.
- See, for example, Garret Ellison, Wolverine Worldwide, 3M to pay $54M in PFAS class settlement, MLive (September 21, 2022).