Ann Al-Bahish in Law360: ‘What to Know About the Growing PFAS Litigation’

February 28, 2022

Litigation over so-called forever chemicals, or PFAS, found in water, packaging and even landfills is poised for a "new wave" as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue more regulations following new research on how the substances affect human health.

Used for their flame-retardant and water-resistant properties, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances have been the target of lawsuits brought against manufacturers such as 3M and DuPont in recent years. Generally, the suits have been filed by water districts and localities over groundwater contamination and for exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam.

But legal experts say they expect to see such suits expand into other areas and industries, as the chemicals are pervasively used in food packaging, cosmetics and clothing. …

Given the wide variety of products that contain PFAS, including nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabric and cleaning products, companies further downstream from the chemical makers could be affected as well, particularly as online shopping grew during the pandemic, said Ann Al-Bahish of Haynes and Boone, LLP.

"Just as more stuff is in e-commerce and being delivered, what kind of liability are people on that chain going to have over these chemicals in the products that they handle?" Al-Bahish said. "Because we also have all kinds of consumer products, all kinds of products, period, and then we have all kinds of new ways to ship them and return them."

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