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State of California suing DuPont, 3M over toxic 'forever chemicals'

These chemicals are found in everything from cookware to clothing, cosmetics to stain-resistant rugs, and even in fire-fighting foam.

SAN DIEGO — The state of California is taking on some of the country's most powerful chemical companies, suing them for producing toxic 'forever chemicals' used in everything from clothing to cookware to cosmetics. 

The chemicals never break down naturally, ending up in our water, soil and even our bodies. 

This lawsuit filed by California's attorney general claims that a number of companies, including DuPont and 3M, led "a campaign of deception," covering up the harm caused to the environment and to people by 'forever chemicals' that they manufactured.

"The damage caused by these chemical giants is nothing short of staggering," Rob Bonta said. 

These toxic chemicals, known as polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS for short, have been used since the 1940s. They are found in everything from cookware to clothing, cosmetics to stain-resistant rugs, and even in fire-fighting foam.

"PFAS are known as forever chemicals because they essentially never break down naturally," said  Kevin Loria of Consumer Reports. "And they are often added to products to make them waterproof, stain resistant, or nonstick."

PFAS have been linked to a number of health problems, including increased risk for some types of cancer, liver damage and neurodevelopmental problems.

Bonta added that over the decades, these toxic chemicals have made their way into our waters, soil, and even our bodies.

"In fact, 'forever chemicals'  are in the blood stream of 98% of Californians," he said. 

This new lawsuit is seeking potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties and clean-up costs from these chemical giants.

"These companies knew for decades that PFAS are toxic and harmful to human health and the environment, yet they continued to produce them en masse, and for mass use," Bonta said. 

However, these companies named in the lawsuit are denying these allegations.

A spokesman for DuPont said that "we believe these complaints are without merit."

A spokesperson for 3M said that it "acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS and will defend its record of environmental stewardship."

Bonta countered that this legal action is critical to making sure these companies pay for the damage they've caused.

"Without drastic, aggressive action, California will be dealing with the harm of these toxic 'forever chemicals' for generations," he added. 

To take a closer look at this lawsuit, click here.

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