2025: The Year 3M Will End ‘Forever Chemicals’

2025 is set to be the year that 3M cease all production of products containing ‘forever chemicals’, also known as PFAS. But will it be too late?

There have been more than 3,000 cases filed against 3M and other PFAS-producing companies, for the negative effects these toxic PFAS have had on normal people’s lives. This number will only grow, as with the nickname the chemicals are essentially ‘forever.’ They are extremely difficult to break down, so the problems will only increase and become evident as time goes on.

What this means for future generations is yet to be seen. Corporations like 3M have opened Pandora’s Box by introducing these chemicals to manufacturing. An estimated 98 to 99 percent of people now have PFAS in our blood. This number is shocking and disturbing since most of these chemicals were only introduced in the 1980s. 

3M, one of the biggest manufacturers of PFAS-related products, claims their exit from PFAS manufacturing is based upon growing environmental concerns and impending increases in regulation, as moves are being made worldwide toward eliminating ‘forever chemicals’ from our environment. It seems more likely the change of heart comes from the mass of liability 3M faces over water contamination due to their PFAS production. 

The heart problem-, low birth rate-, and cancer-causing chemicals are found everywhere, and are the crux of mountains of litigation against the 3M conglomerate. Stopping production won’t completely end lawsuits against the company. In fact, they will still be on the front line of thousands of potential lawsuits for years to come.

PFAS are found everywhere in the commercial and industrial products we use, and the ubiquity of the chemicals has led to large scale water contamination in every corner of the country. Teflon, fast food packaging, and thousands of other products we consider “normal” are actually poisoning us. 

Firefighting foam made by 3M has come under much scrutiny. Thousands of firefighting foam cancer lawsuits have been brought against 3M, with the plaintiffs claiming they were not warned of the dangers of using their products. 

Individuals who lived by military bases and airports have also filed suit against 3M for the effect water contamination has had on their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and on their businesses. These lawsuits, too, are related to firefighting foam, which is mandated to be used in training.

Testicular, prostate, and pancreatic cancer are among the health tragedies experienced by many of the firefighters who have brought lawsuits against 3M and other companies that produce aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF). The PFAS in these products have affected both firefighters and, from water contamination from the products, residents in the vicinity.

Since 2020, about three cases have been filed against 3M each and every day, according to Bloomberg Law.

Many local communities and water suppliers have filed suit against 3M due to the cost that will be incurred cleaning and restoring drinking water supplies. Without these lawsuits, those costs would fall on taxpayers. 

A U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina is one of the first to address such litigation. The court has decided to create a multidistrict litigation (MDL), wherein a large number of AFFF claims will be heard.

Many firefighters only discovered recently that the gear they wear nearly each day to protect themselves from the blazes they are extinguishing are the very things that may kill them in the future. 

The EPA first identified PFAS as a problem in 1998, but for more than 20 years, every presidential administration passed the responsibility of regulation along to the next administration. It wasn’t until January 2022 that the Biden administration established a ban on PFAS in food packaging like pizza boxes and fast food wrappers. It has also proposed deeming certain PFAS as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund program. Earlier this year, the administration enacted emergency measures to begin mitigating the problem while it is still being studied.

But will it be too late?

All these changes in perception and regulations would seem to be enough for a company to end its production of such chemicals. However, with PFAS being a multi-billion dollar industry, it most certainly is the multi-billion dollar judgments that the deluge of lawsuits will cost companies like 3M that are re-directing their approach to PFAS. Their only recourse is to change course.

Their decision, even though having a great impact on our health and environment, may, however, have the greatest impact on their wallet than in undoing the harm they have already caused.