PA Woman Sues Over Kidney Cancer Linked to PFAS, as EPA Takes Historic Step on "Forever Chemicals"

pfas in drinking water

Pennsylvania Lawsuit Highlights PFAs Health Risks As EPA Sets First Federal Limits On 'Forever Chemicals'

A recent lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania highlights the growing public health concerns surrounding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as "forever chemicals." These man-made chemicals are nearly indestructible and have been linked to a variety of health problems, including kidney cancer.

The lawsuit, filed by 73-year-old Regina Brown, alleges that her lifelong exposure to PFAS-contaminated water in Pennsylvania caused her to develop kidney cancer. Brown claims she unknowingly consumed water tainted with PFAS for decades, ultimately requiring surgery to remove a kidney. The complaint targets manufacturers of PFAS chemicals and fire safety equipment containing these chemicals, including 3M.

This case comes amid a significant development on the national level. Just days ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first-ever federal limits on PFAS in drinking water. This landmark decision sets enforceable standards for public water systems, requiring them to monitor and potentially treat PFAS contamination.

Uncovering a public health threat

Brown's lawsuit reflects the growing number of people coming forward about potential health problems linked to PFAS exposure. PFAS chemicals are used in a wide range of products, including nonstick cookware, firefighting foam, and water-repellent materials. These chemicals are incredibly persistent in the environment and can accumulate in the human body over time.

Studies have linked PFAS exposure to various health problems, including:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Fetal development issues
  • Weakened immune system
  • Potential effects on brain development and bone density

The widespread use of PFAS and their persistence in the environment have created a public health threat demanding immediate attention.

EPA takes action on PFAS

The EPA's new regulations represent a critical step forward in addressing PFAS contamination. The rules require public water systems to:

  • Test for six specific PFAS chemicals.
  • Inform the public about PFAS levels in their drinking water.
  • Take steps to reduce PFAS levels if they exceed the new federal limits.

These regulations will impact an estimated 66,000 water systems across the country, potentially providing cleaner drinking water for millions of Americans. The EPA has also allocated $1 billion to support testing, treatment, and remediation efforts related to PFAS contamination.

A long road ahead

While the EPA's new regulations are a positive development, there's still much work to be done. The agency has set initial limits for just six types of PFAS, and there are thousands more in existence. Additionally, the new rules allow for a three-year testing period and a five-year window for implementing treatment solutions.

Lawsuits like Brown's hold manufacturers accountable for the potential health consequences of PFAS contamination. These cases, coupled with ongoing research and regulatory efforts, are crucial for protecting public health and ensuring access to safe drinking water.

Brown is represented by Madeline E. Pendley, M. Justin Lusko, and James Caleb Cunningham of Levin Papantonio Rafferty Proctor Buchanan O’Brien Barr and Mougey PA.

The PFAs contamination lawsuit is Regina Brown v. 3M Company et al, Case No. 2:24-cv-01514-RMG. The case joins MDL No. 2873, In Re: Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation, in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina Charleston Division.



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