Baltimore City’s lawsuit joins a wave of cases across the country seeking to hold polluters responsible for PFAS contamination.
Last Friday, the City of Baltimore announced the filing of a lawsuit against over 20 manufacturers of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) and certain “forever chemicals” used in those products. In solidarity with the City of Philadelphia, which also filed a similar lawsuit, Baltimore seeks to hold DuPont, Chemours, 3M, and others accountable for knowingly allowing the City’s waterways and water systems to come into contact with these substances.
AFFF products have been used nationwide for decades. As a result of their widespread use and disposal, the products have introduced per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into the environment. State and federal law do not yet impose requirements on municipal water providers to test for and limit the amount of PFAS in drinking water or in water supplies, but the City anticipates such requirements and is taking proactive measures to ensure its compliance and protect its residents and the environment, such as the filing of this lawsuit.
While the measured amounts of PFAS in Baltimore’s drinking water are extremely low and are compliant with all regulatory requirements, the fact that they are present is reason enough to proactively prepare for future protections. Over the summer, the EPA slashed the recommended amount of PFAS from 10ppts to 2ppts. Current testing cannot detect below 10ppts.
The City joins thousands of other plaintiffs in AFFF-related litigation. Over 100 public entities have commenced similar actions against the AFFF and PFAS manufacturers named in the City’s case. In addition to Philadelphia, earlier this year, Prince George’s County, Maryland filed a similar AFFF lawsuit. Other major municipalities, such as the City of San Diego, California, have filed similar actions. Baltimore joins these plaintiffs in seeking to hold the AFFF and PFAS manufacturers accountable for all damages resulting from their misconduct, including the costs of complying with anticipated water quality regulations.