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Press Release

Alaska Attorney General Files Complaint Seeking Damages Against PFAS Manufacturers

April 7, 2021

(Anchorage, AK) – Attorney General Treg Taylor announced that today, the State of Alaska filed a Complaint against 3M Company, E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, and dozens of other companies for their roles in the release of two specific per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) into the environment: PFOA and PFOS. The lawsuit alleges that for decades, these companies knowingly designed, formulated, manufactured, marketed, distributed and/or sold PFOA and PFOS-laden products, including a product known as aqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”), which is commonly used to extinguish fires involving petroleum or other flammable liquids, including jet fuel.

PFAS are a large and complex class of human-made compounds.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health, there are over 4,700 types of PFAS compounds in existence. PFAS compounds are found in a wide range of consumer products such as carpet treatments, non-stick cookware, water-resistant fabrics, food packaging materials, and personal care products. PFOS and PFOA, meanwhile, are two examples of “long-chain” PFAS compounds most commonly used in firefighting foams, including AFFF.

Airports around the world, including in Alaska, have used AFFF fire-fighting products in both real-event and training situations. In October 2018, Congress directed the Federal Aviation Administration to stop requiring the use of fluorinated chemicals in aircraft firefighting foams by October 2021. However, because PFOA and PFOS are persistent in the environment and soluble in water, large plumes of groundwater contamination can form where these compounds have been released. When releases occur in areas served by private or public drinking water wells, the well water is susceptible to contamination.

While PFOA and PFOS compounds are effective in fire-fighting and industrial processes, these products are also water soluble and bioaccumulative, and biomagnify up the food chain. Research suggests that exposure to high levels of PFOA and PFOS compounds may lead to some negative human health effects including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy, effects to the immune system, changes to cholesterol levels, and cancer.

The State is seeking damages against these companies, who are also named as Thrid-Party defendants in a related lawsuit, Gaston v. Alaska, currently pending in Fairbanks Superior Court. The State’s Complaint alleges, among other things, that the defendants violated the law by (1) designing defective products; (2) failing to warn the State of Alaska, other downstream handlers, and the general public of the potential harmful impact of products containing PFAS; and (3) engaging in deceptive trade practices codified under the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act (AS 45.50.471, et. seq.).

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Department Media Contact: Assistant Attorney General Maria Bahr or Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Rand.