Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is suing 14 plastics makers and chemical manufacturers alleging they promoted so-called fluorinated "forever chemicals" as safe while being aware of risks from environmental contamination.
The Feb. 1 lawsuit names 3M Corp., Dyneon LLC, Arkema Inc., BASF Corp. Clariant Corp., Bayer Corp., Chemours, DowDuPont Inc., Daikin America Inc. and Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC, among others, for their role in manufacturing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
"For decades, manufacturers have been aware of the dangers of PFAS yet still promote the chemicals as being safe to use. As a result, PFAS have contaminated our water supplies across Illinois," Raoul said. "The manufacturers of forever chemicals must be held accountable for the widespread contamination to our natural resources."
The lawsuit comes days after Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc. and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the settlement of a lawsuit over potential PFAS contamination from a plastic compounding plant in that state.
In that Jan. 30 agreement, Asahi Kasei agreed to test and remediate, as well as pay more than $3 million to the state to cover legal fees and environmental costs.
Raoul said his legal challenge builds on Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to sample community water supplies for PFAS. It said the agency found PFAS in 152 communities — with 70 locations where the levels were greater than the state's health advisory level.
"Through Illinois EPA's statewide investigation into the prevalence of PFAS contamination in our state's drinking water, it is clear that PFAS contamination can be found in communities throughout Illinois, as a result of the continued use and manufacturing of these chemicals," Illinois EPA Director John Kim said in Raoul's statement.
The Illinois lawsuit said it seeks to recover costs from the contamination, including damages that would allow the state to continue monitoring and remediating PFAS contamination.
3M Corp. is planning to exit the business of manufacturing PFAS by the end of 2025 and has said it acted responsibly around PFAS manufacturing.
The American Chemistry Council said industry supports the responsible use of fluorinated chemicals and said the class of PFAS compounds includes hundreds of different substances that have important uses in the economy.
Several plastics processing firms have announced moves away from PFAS chemicals.