3M Reaches $10.3 Billion Settlement over ‘Forever Chemicals’ Water Contamination Lawsuits
3M, the manufacturer of popular products like Post-It notes, Scotch Tape, and n95 masks, has announced a settlement agreement to resolve numerous lawsuits alleging the contamination of water supplies in the United States by toxic “forever chemicals.” Under the agreement, 3M will allocate up to $10.3 billion over a span of 13 years to support public water suppliers across the country that have detected these chemicals in drinking water.
Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” are pervasive in numerous household items, including cosmetics and carpets, as they are used to create water, grease, and oil-repellent coatings.
This settlement marks a significant development for 3M, which has faced many lawsuits over the past two decades related to the manufacture of PFAS-containing products. Plaintiffs claim that 3M knew the health hazards, including cancer, developmental defects, and other adverse effects caused by PFAS, as well as the contamination of drinking water systems in the United States.
In response to the mounting pressure, 3M previously announced its decision to discontinue the production of these controversial chemicals by the end of 2025.
The proposed settlement by 3M follows similar actions by other companies, including Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva, who recently agreed to pay over $1 billion to settle lawsuits regarding “forever chemicals.”
Earlier this year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed national drinking water standards for PFAS, prompted by evidence of their persistent presence in the environment and human bodies.
3M emphasizes that the multi-billion dollar settlement does not imply an admission of liability. If the court does not approve the agreement, the company states its readiness to continue defending itself against litigation.
3M’s chairman and CEO, Mike Roman, stated, “This is an important step forward for 3M, which builds on our actions that include our announced exit of PFOA and PFOS manufacturing more than 20 years ago, our more recent investments in state-of-the-art water filtration technology in our chemical manufacturing operations, and our announcement that we will exit all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025.”
Following the announcement of the settlement, 3 M’s stock experienced a surge of over 5% in after-hours trading.