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Michigan Attorney General sues firefighting foam manufacturers over PFAS

firefighting foam
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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed lawsuits against nearly three dozen companies that make firefighting foams, known in the industry as AFFF, or aqueous film-forming foam.

AFFF contains PFAS, a family of chemicals used in many industries, including the firefighting industry. They can persist in the environment for hundreds of years and even longer, and build up in the tissues of fish, animals and humans. PFAS are also linked to illnesses including cancer. 

Nessel filed a lawsuit in state court against manufacturers of commercial-grade AFFF that was sold to customers in the State of Michigan and a lawsuit in federal court against manufacturers of AFFF made according to military standards, including Chemguard, National Foam, 3M, Dupont, and others.

Both cases assert that the defendants deliberately concealed the dangers of PFAS and intentionally, knowingly and recklessly "sold, distributed, released, transported, supplied, arranged for disposal or treatment, and handled and used" the PFAS-containing AFFF in a way that they knew would contaminate natural resources and expose Michigan residents to harm. 

There are numerous bodies of water and groundwater sites in the state that have been contaminated with PFAS chemicals, including the former Wurtsmith military base in Oscoda. 

In January, Nessel made similar claims in lawsuits against 17 companies in other industries that make, use, distribute and dispose of PFAS chemicals, including 3M and Dupont.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Wurtsmith base was in Owosso. It is in Oscoda.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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