North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was in the Triad Tuesday to announce a new phase of his investigation into PFAS contamination in our state.
These chemical substances have many uses including non-stick coatings, fire-suppressing foams as well as in furniture, clothing, and adhesives. PFAS are a health concern because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they do not break down in the environment. Exposure to PFAS has also been linked to cancer and other serious health issues.
In 2020, Stein began his investigation into the manufacturers responsible for PFAS contamination in North Carolina resulting in a lawsuit against DuPont and Chemours for pollution at a Fayetteville plant. Four more lawsuits were announced the following year against DuPont, 3M, and twelve other manufacturers of aqueous film forming foam.
"Aqueous film forming foam or AFFF is a fire suppressant that’s widely used by the military, airports, and firefighters," says Stein. "It’s designed to be mixed with water and sprayed. Of course, without effective precautionary measures that spray freely seeps into the soil and groundwater contaminating our natural resources."
The state lawsuits allege that AFFF manufacturers knowingly created a design defect that was harmful yet failed to warn their customers. It further alleges that the companies engaged in a corporate shell game to shield their profits and limit their liability.
On Tuesday, Stein filed a case in Guilford County related to PFAS contamination at the Piedmont Triad International Airport showing levels well above the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory for drinking water. Another case was filed in Onslow County concerning pollution at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River.