Lawsuit: 3M contamination led to more cancer, infertility

November 21, 2017

Minnesota's attorney general alleges that chemicals dumped by 3M Co. in the Twin Cities metro led to an increase in cancer, infertility and babies with low birth weights.

The contamination caused $5 billion in health and for which 3M should be liable, Attorney General Lori Swanson said Friday in a .

The filing alleges that 3M knew the groundwater was contaminated years before it stopped making perflourinated chemicals, known as PFCs, and that it withheld critical information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"3M, in pursuit of profit, deliberately disregarded the substantial risk of injury to the people and environment of Minnesota from its continued manufacture of PFCs and its improper disposal," the state said.

The state cited a study by David Sunding, a natural resources economist at the University of California, Berkley, in court documents. Sunding studied epidemiological data and birth and death records for Washington County and Oakdale from 2001 and 2016. He found Oakdale had a 30 percent increase in low birth weights and premature births compared to neighboring communities. The city's fertility rate was about 16 percent lower.

The lawsuit is a "misguided attempt" to force the to pay for a problem that does not exist, 3M said.

"3M believes these chemicals present no harm at the levels they are observed in Minnesota," said William Brewer III, 3M's lead attorney.

The company began manufacturing PFCs in the 1940s and stopped production in 2002. The chemicals were used in fire-fighting foam, stain repellents, non-stick cookware and other household and industrial products. The company discarded the chemicals in landfills in Oakdale, Woodbury and Lake Elmo up until the 1970s.

Pollution was discovered in groundwater in several Washington County cities in 2004. The company has spent more than $100 million to clean up the pollution by installing water filters in the Oakdale city water system, giving residents filters and distributing bottled water.

The lawsuit was first filed in 2010. After a series of procedural delays, the case is scheduled for trial early next year.

Explore further: Aussie answer to toxic fire-fighting chemicals

Related Stories

Aussie answer to toxic fire-fighting chemicals

October 6, 2014

Australian scientists have come up with the solution to a world-wide pollution problem – how to mop up the toxic residues left after the use of special foams to fight fires.

Water pollution continues at famous Russian lake

March 24, 2008

Despite widespread concerns about preserving the world’s largest body of fresh water, researchers report that pollution is continuing in Russia’s fabled Lake Baikal. The study is scheduled for the April 15 issue of ACS’ ...

Oregon sues Oracle over failed health care website

August 22, 2014

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says she's filed a lawsuit against Oracle Corp. and several of its executives over the technology company's role in the state's troubled health insurance exchange.

Recommended for you


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.