The Strategist

3M Corporation to pay $10.3bn for 'perpetual chemical' pollution

06/26/2023 - 03:09

A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit brought by 3M, a U.S. multinational corporation, against citizens of multiple states in connection with the chemical contamination of nearby soil and water reservoirs. The business will pay $10.3 billion over the following 13 years.

The contamination occurred due to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS group chemicals. They are insoluble in water, are heat-resistant, and take a very long time to decompose—all characteristics that make them 'permanent compounds'. PFASs are used in the creation of disposable dinnerware, food packing, textiles and carpets, non-stick coatings, etc.

Attorneys for thousands of plaintiffs from states including Pennsylvania, South Carolina, California, and others claim that 3M has been using such chemicals since the 1950s and has contaminated significant amounts of water and soil, leading to cancer and other health issues in humans. Fire extinguisher foam, which also uses similar chemicals, has apparently been one of the main sources of PFAS contamination.

In the midst of the legal processes and massive public uproar over the pollution caused by "perpetual chemicals," 3M declared last year that it will stop using them as of 2025.