In January, the state of Michigan sued 17 companies for using PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” in their products without disclosing the harmful effects it could have had on the environment and human health. In the case of the State of Michigan v. 3M, Michigan’s Attorney General claimed these companies, “withheld scientific evidence, and intentionally, knowingly and recklessly sold, distributed, released, transported, supplied, arranged for disposal or treatment, and handled and used PFAS and PFAS-containing materials in Michigan in a way that they knew would contaminate natural resources and expose Michigan residents to harm.” Quickly emerging as one of Michigan’s largest contamination problems, 74 sites in the state contained the chemicals above the EPA’s lifetime health advisory guideline. Across 49 states, 2,230 sites were found to contain some amount of PFAS-related pollution. These compounds are most known for being carcinogenic.
According to FOIA documents received from Attorney General Nessel’s Office, attorneys have spent over 4,500 hours working on this case since July 2019, costing $650,888 so far (the Attorney General’s Office confirmed this figure). The lawsuit was filed in January of this year and could take years to litigate, as the state entered into a 3 year contract with outside law firms working on a pro bono basis.