3M, a manufacturer based in St. Paul, Minnesota, announced Thursday that it has reached a settlement to pay $10.3 billion to resolve lawsuits connected to the contamination of many public drinking water systems across the United States.
“This is an important step forward for 3M, which builds on our actions that include our announced exit of PFOA and PFOS manufacturing more than 20 years ago, our more recent investments in state-of-the-art water filtration technology in our chemical manufacturing operations, and our announcement that we will exit all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025,” said 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman in a statement.
Public water suppliers claim some of 3M’s products contaminate soil and groundwater with harmful chemicals known as PFAs, known as “forever chemicals.” PFAs are used by 3M in the production of firefighting foams as well as nonstick and grease-resistant consumer products. 3M also produces things like Post-It notes, Scotch Tape and N95 masks.
Due to their resistance to natural degradation, PFAs have been associated with various health issues, including liver and immune system damage, as well as certain types of cancer.
3M claims no liability under the settlement and has agreed to pay $10.3 billion over a span of 13 years, but the actual payout could go as high as $12.5 billion depending on how many public water systems find PFAs during future tastings.
The payout will fund testing and cleanup for public water supplies.
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