Litigation over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the United States continues to garner news coverage and generate headlines. While these suits began as claims against manufacturers of PFAS itself, they are now beginning to appear further down the supply chain in an enormous variety of industries. With PFAS found in common household products from food wrappers to cosmetics and nonstick cookware to medical equipment, a wide array of policyholders now find themselves staring down the barrel of PFAS products liability lawsuits. Insurance companies are also poised to challenge whether liability insurance coverage for these claims exists and have already started attempting to rely on an old favorite provision to do so: the pollution exclusion. Fortunately for policyholders, courts have long held that the pollution exclusion is inapplicable for product liability claims like these.
The Environmental Impact of PFAS
PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). See Gluge et. al., “An overview of the uses of PFAS,” Envtl. Sci. Processes and Impacts, 2345, 2346 (2020). These types of chemicals are sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals” because their unique chemical structure makes it almost impossible for them to be eliminated from the environment. The chemicals are immune from natural degradation as well as heat, acids, chemical stimuli and oxidation. These characteristics, which are ones that made PFAS’ presence in so many products ubiquitous, now are the source of growing regulatory and judicial concern. Because of this, PFAS persist in water sources, leading to bioaccumulation of the substances in humans and animals. See “Our Current Understanding of the Human Health and Environmental Risks of PFAS,” U.S. Envtl. Protection Agency, (last visited March 31, 2022). Studies have detailed the health impacts of PFAS exposure, including cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy complications, and high cholesterol.
Support Lumiserver & Cynesys on Tipeee
Visit our sponsors
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is the cheaper, easier way to send money abroad. It helps people move money quickly and easily between bank accounts in different countries. Convert 60+ currencies with ridiculously low fees - on average 7x cheaper than a bank. No hidden fees, no markup on the exchange rate, ever.
Now you can get a free first transfer up to 500£ with your ESNcard. You can access this offer here.