Via America’s Lawyer: Many are cheering President Biden for signing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure act into law, which includes $10 billion to help address PFAS contamination in America’s drinking water. But is it enough to clean up the mess?. At the Mass Torts Made Perfect conference in Las Vegas, RT’s Brent Jabbour, filling in for Mike Papantonio, sat down with attorney Joshua Harris to discuss the countless products that remain tainted by these forever toxins, while lawsuits continue to mount against industrial manufacturers 3M and DuPont.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Mike Papantonio: A lot of people are cheering president Biden for signing the trillion dollar infrastructure act into law, which includes provisions to help tackle PFAS contamination in America’s drinking water, but it isn’t enough to clean up the mess. It’s not even close. No, moreover, taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for it. At the Mass Torts Made Perfect conference in Las Vegas, RT’s Brent Jabbour sat down with attorney Joshua Harris to discuss the countless products that remain tainted by these forever toxins.
Brent Jabbour: Josh, I wanna start with, what do we know about how this is even seems to be worse than we initially thought?
Joshua Harris: Well, these chemicals, PFAS and PFOAs are, are what people refer to as forever chemicals. They’re manmade chemical compounds mainly manufactured by 3M and DuPont. And what they do is when they seep into the, the ecosystem, especially in water, they can exist for tens of thousands of years or when they start combining with water it could be a million years before their half-life is over. The problem that we’re seeing now is that these chemicals are used in, in almost everything that we interact with. They’re in fast food wrappers, they’re in rain coats. That’s the, the Teflon on your non-stick pan. It started off with Rob Bilot in the Ohio River Valley. What he noticed was that the water contamination issues were causing deaths in farm animals and it was causing issues with people who worked at DuPont and 3M chemical plants making these compounds. So they looked into it and that’s what started the C8 litigation.
Brent Jabbour: And what are the negative effects on the human body from having a forever chemical in your body?
Joshua Harris: Oh, it, it’s extensive. There’s preeclampsia, there’s, you know, minor effects, migraines, headaches, and then there’s things that get as bad as ulcerative colitis, cancer. I mean, death. We’re, we’re seeing a broad gamut of injuries that can be affected or caused, I should say, by these forever chemicals. The issue is that they’ve seeped over into almost every facet of life. They’re in the fast food wrappers. So, you know, double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s there’s these forever chemicals and those. The, the bowl from Chipotle, the, the to-go bowl, they’re, that’s in there. You know, your raincoat, your Teflon in your non-stick pan, those are all C8 chemicals, PFOAs, PFOS that are now in everyday life. And what we’re seeing is that they use this, they’ve marketed this for firefighting foams. So in industrial sites and military bases and airports, what they have is the firefighting foam. And they see in the training experiences, when they use these foams to try to put out fires, it seeps into the ecosystem and seeps into the ground. And what it does then is as it gets, you know, the rain and seeps deeper down into aquifers and moves throughout the land, it goes to where crops are and it’s coming up in food. So it’s just completely taken over and there’s no way to get rid of these chemicals.
Brent Jabbour: And, and obviously the, the issue being, unfortunately, that there’s no way to get rid of these chemicals as they’ve seeped into water supplies or food, but what, where is litigation against the companies that have allowed this to happen?
Joshua Harris: Well, currently our firm’s representing water districts throughout the country and we’re actually looking over to expand into international territories as well. And, and we’re holding DuPont and 3M responsible because, you know, there’s all these treatments that you have to use to try to make the water go down to a safe level so that people can use it, so that people can farm with it, so that people can drink it. So we’re, we’re working right now to represent the water districts throughout the country and make sure that they have what they need to treat this dangerous chemical.
Brent Jabbour: Do we know how much companies like DuPont actually knew about this?
Joshua Harris: Oh my gosh. We know that at least in the sixties that they, they had documents on it. That’s what we saw in the C8 trials. That’s what we’re seeing in these PFOA, PFOS trials. And, and they, they knew, they knew that, that this was a bad chemical. They had it tested, they even referred to it, they said that, you know, instead of changing the chemical, they were gonna stick with the devil we know, and saying that they were gonna stick with that C8 chemical knowing the harms and effects that it had. They’ve known it. The EPAs done studies on it since then and they’ve reported it. Even in the sixties, the EPA reported it as an emerging chemical of concern saying, we don’t know if this is gonna be safe enough to put out in the environment. But what DuPont and 3M did was they downplayed the risk factors of it and push it so they could sell it. And for DuPont, I mean, this was a billion dollar a year business for them. I mean, it was going everywhere. It could go. So they wanted to do everything they can to keep it alive at the risk of all these lives and all these people who have been affected and dying.
Brent Jabbour: And are, they’re still selling this stuff today?
Joshua Harris: The firefighting foams are still out there. It’s still in the wrappers and things that we talked about. So yeah, they, they still manufacture this stuff as is of now. The EPA’s tried to slow it down, but it’s not been the most effective
Brent Jabbour: Joshua Harris, Thank you so much.
Joshua Harris: Thank you.