PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — 3M has agreed to pay more than $10 billion to water systems across the country to settle a lawsuit over harmful chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or human body. While it isn’t clear if any of that money is coming to our region, more lawsuits are pending.
PFAS are industrial grade chemicals used to manufacture everyday products like makeup, medical supplies and fast food packaging.
People across the country have been dealing with these forever chemicals that made their way into the water supply, but New Jersey is one of the hardest-hit states in the country.
“They’re gonna be on the hook. 3M and Dupont will be on the hook for this,” said Michael Furrey, who owns Agra Environmental and Laboratory Services and helps set drinking water quality standards in the Garden State.
He doesn’t expect any money from the $10.3 billion 3M settlement to come to New Jersey, but he says funds are earmarked to help the region with remediation.
“The money’s either coming from the lawsuits to these companies … a lot of the funding is coming from the federal government,” said Furrey. “There is a lot of money from the infrastructure bill that came out for lead contamination, lead in drinking water or PFAS.”
Furrey estimated the total cleanup cost nationwide is $1 trillion.
“It’s not a cheap endeavor. Ridgewood, New Jersey, they have a fairly large water system, got a lot of wells. They’re going to be spending $70 million in treatment,” he said, “so start adding all those numbers up and the numbers are going to grow exponentially.”
3M says it will stop producing products containing PFAS by the end of 2025, but the chemicals have already made their way into the water supplies across the country.
“3M and Dupont are phasing these out because they are dangerous. And they have health effects,” said Furrey.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that high levels of PFAS may cause increased cholesterol levels, decreased vaccine response in children and increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer, among other effects.
New Jersey’s American Water said it is “part of a larger multidistrict litigation” over PFAS contamination.
Aqua Pennsylvania will not comment until the details of the settlement are fully reviewed.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s Departments of Environmental Protection did not return a request for comment.