Manufacturing giant 3M says it will stop making 'Forever Chemicals' PFAS by 2026

TECHNOLOGY
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3M's headquarters in St.  Paul, Minnesota is pictured.  The state sued the company for water pollution in 2010, and in 2018 it was awarded an $850 million settlement — just one of many lawsuits 3M was subjected to over the PFAS.

mega-manufacturer 3M, which manufactures all of medical mask tape for electronic components, said it will stop all production of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by the end of 2025, in a press statement released Monday. the ad follows multiple judicial actions and surveys in pollution linked to the company’s facilities, which cost 3 million billion dollars and telling.

In addition to pledging to “exit all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025,” 3M also specified that it would “work to phase out the use of PFAS across our product portfolio” over the same timeframe. In other words, the company has definitively said it will stop making the chemicals and least definitely said it will to experiment stop using PFAS compounds in their products. Note that in theory this leaves room for 3M to obtain PFAS from elsewhere and continue to use them. in the many items it makes.

The company did not directly respond to most of Gizmodo’s queries about the scope and specifics of its PFAS moratorium. However, in an email3M spokesman Carolyn LaViolette I wrote“We’ve already reduced our use of PFAS over the past three years through ongoing research and development and will continue to innovate new solutions for customers.”

LaViolette declined to answer Gizmodo’s questions about what compounds 3M might use to to replace PFAS. For over 20 years, the defunct company a particular subset of PFAS known as PFOS and replaced these chemicals with those currently used shorter-chain molecules. Eventually, research determined that those minors substitute chemicals have been no less dangerous (and possibly worse) than your predecessors.

Possible loopholes and other risks aside, 3M ending its PFAS manufacturing is still a big deal. Other corporate giants that have historically employed PFAS, such as some fast food chains and clothing manufacturers, also recently committed to ending the use of chemicals. But 3M doesn’t just use PFAS; it makes things.

the company was one of the first to develop and begin employing PFAS chemicals in the 1950ss. Since then, hyperdurable compounds have been widely used in nonstick coatings, fire retardants, food packaging, cosmetics, furniture, and elsewhere for their ability to repel water, oil, and grease. Yet, PFAS pose a danger to the environment and human health.

PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their extreme stability over time. They don’t naturally degrade in the environment or in our bodies – so instead they build up and cause a mountain of problems. Scientific studies found links between PFAS and various cancers, immune deficiencies, high cholesterol, liver disease, delayed child development, birth defects, and pregnancy complications. And it’s not just the people who getting sick when PFAS are around. Research has shown that other animals – from alligators for cattle– suffer similar harmful health effects caused by chemicals.

Unfortunately, avoiding the compounds it is almost impossible thanks to more than 70 years of industrial production. PFAS pollution is basically everywhereIs it over there still not a failsafe way to remove them of our water and air.

All these scientific revelations about the harms of PFAS and the difficulties of cleaning them led to increasing regulatory pressure, judicial actionsand scrutiny on the companies that make and use the chemicals, including 3M. Several European countries have has considered a total ban on PFAS🇧🇷 Within the US, the EPA has issued an updated health advice to PFAS earlier this year, effectively declaring that there is no safe level of the chemical in drinking water. In November, the environmental agency ordered 3M to test and clean your water near Cordova, Illinois factory.

On a Notable 2010 Case Against 3M, Minnesota Attorney General sued the company about the pollution associated with its facilities across the state where 3M is headquartered. Many people in communities near 3M factories, such as Oakdalebelieve pollution in its waters supply contributed to a local spike in cancer cases and other health issues for residents. the company has publicly denied any guiltand Oakdale scientific evaluations reached several conclusions about whether or not city ​​residents suffer from statistically significant elevated cancer rates. However, in 2018, 3M made a deal with Minnesota for the of $850 million🇧🇷

Tcompany faced thousands of lawsuits because of PFAS. Oongoing cases include a process from AG of California and a consolidated multidistrict case on firefighting foam that could leave the company on the hook for more than $30 billion in damages, according to a report by Bloomberg Law. Compare this with the $1.3 billion to $2.3 billion that the company’s own analysis says cutting PFAS can be costly.

Ultimately, for 3M, putting chemicals forever in the past is nothing more than shrewd financial calculation. “Our decision is based on an assessment of the evolving external landscape, including regulatory changes and market interest in alternatives to PFAS,” LaViolette wrote to Gizmodo.

Even so, the ad is step towards a safer, healthier world that indicates that the persistent efforts of scientists, environmental activists and legal experts have made a real difference. PFAS is no longer profitable.

For now, 3M says will continue to manufacture PFAS as the company “intends to meet current contractual obligations during the transition period”. But in three years, one chapter of the “forever” saga may finally end.

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