Businesses must begin taking concrete steps to prepare for the next wave of environmental and consumer products safety litigation, which is likely to focus on any historic and/or current use of materials containing certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). An umbrella term covering more than 5,000 man-made chemical compounds, PFAS has been widely used in consumer and industrial products for more than 70 years, including in many common food containers and wrappers, non-stick cookware, furniture, clothing and other products that resist water, grease or oil. Known colloquially as “forever chemicals,” scientific studies have suggested that human exposure to unsafe levels of PFAS may be linked to a variety of health risks. The federal government has announced regulatory and legislative efforts to reduce or eliminate the use of PFAS compounds in consumer products and several state governments have already adopted laws doing the same.
The following update addresses possible risks for manufacturers and distributors of products containing PFAS, as well as next steps these companies should take. Read our update here.