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PFAS contamination lawyer

One of the more concerning areas of litigation in recent years involves substances dubbed “forever chemicals.” Forever chemicals have this name because they last thousands of years in the environment, and they are very tenacious. With more than 9,000 variants in this large family of chemicals, PFAS exposure and contamination have become the epicenter of countless lawsuits, as even small doses of these chemicals can significantly increase one’s risk of very serious health problems. If you are a victim of PFAS contamination, we strongly recommend that you work with an experienced attorney to file a PFAS lawsuit. 

At Reich & Binstock, our toxic tort lawyers have extensive experience handling cases involving water contamination, groundwater contamination, soil contamination, and much more. When filing PFAS lawsuits, it is imperative to work with an attorney who has toxic tort knowledge and experience. Our law firm has handled many toxic tort cases, including those involving the contamination of military bases, toxic firefighting foam, and much more. To schedule your free case evaluation with us, please call our personal injury attorneys at 713-622-7271 today.

PFAS Water Contamination Lawsuit

Potentially millions of families have ingested drinking water contaminated with toxic chemicals such as PFAS. PFAS are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances that take thousands of years to degrade. This earns them the nickname “forever chemicals.” Although there are thousands of different types of PFAS, two of the most known are perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Toxic PFAS chemicals have been widely used for a variety of industrial uses in recent years. Some of these uses include aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), which firefighters use to combat chemical fires. 

Because so many products across the nation include PFAS chemicals, PFAS contamination is widespread. Contamination is a particularly serious issue when it comes to contaminated water and groundwater. When people are exposed to this contaminated water, PFAS exposure has been linked to serious health risks, including an increased risk of cancer and other adverse health effects. If you or your family has been exposed to PFAS, you may be eligible for financial compensation.

What Are PFAS?

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The Environmental Protection Agency defines PFAS as “widely used, long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.” The use of PFAS chemicals is so widespread that people, animals, foods, and soils all over the world have been found to have PFAS present. Thousands of PFAS chemicals are used in countless different products, including consumer products, industrial chemicals, and commercial products. This is part of the reason why these dangerous man-made chemicals are so difficult to study – they’re everywhere.

Even with countless hours of research and study by the Environmental Protection Agency, there is so much that we don’t know about PFAS. What we do know is that those exposed to PFAS can potentially suffer from serious health effects as a result of their exposure. Exposed individuals might have the right to file a PFAS lawsuit if they suffered damages as a result of that exposure.

What Are Different Types of PFAS?

As we stated previously, there are thousands of different types of PFAS chemicals. They became very common around the 1950s, and have since been a staple for chemical companies and industrial manufacturers. Below, we list popular products that often contain PFAS.

  • Firefighting foam
  • Cleaning products
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Medical devices
  • Products that resist grease
  • Stain resistant fabrics
  • Water resistant clothes
  • Paint, varnish, and sealants
  • Cosmetics and personal care products

Two PFAS that were once widely-used are PFOA and PFOS. These two chemicals, plus PFNA and PFHxS, were found in the blood of nearly every individual tested by the CDC for PFAS.

Where Are PFAS Found?

Currently, PFAS can be found in the soil, water, air, and animals across the globe. These man-made products all contain chains of fluorine and carbon in their chemical makeup. Even though many PFAS manufacturers began to phase out PFOA and PFOS in the early 2000’s, this does not stop manufacturers from other countries from shipping PFAS products into the United States. 

This means that PFAS can be found nearly anywhere, including in our water supply. Having drinking water that is contaminated with PFAS is a grave concern for many people, as these synthetic chemicals can wreak havoc on the human body in great enough quantities. If you’ve ever eaten takeout, made microwave popcorn, eaten fish from contaminated water, or eaten contaminated food, then you have been exposed to PFAS.

Can You Filter Out PFAS?

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If you’re concerned about whether or not you can filter PFAS from your drinking water, we have good news for you. While not all PFAS can be filtered through in-home water supply filters, having the right kind of filter and properly maintaining it can ensure that you remove as many PFAS as possible from your drinking water. 

Currently, the most studied treatment for removing PFAS from water is activated carbon. The EPA states that it “can be 100% effective for a period of time, depending on the type of carbon used, the depth of the bed of carbon, flow rate of the water, the specific PFAS you need to remove, temperature, and the degree and type of organic matter as well as other contaminants…in the water.”

Drinking water filters using activated carbon can reduce PFAS in your water by around 95% or more. Other filter alternatives include those that use reverse osmosis and ion exchange. Even bottled water isn’t safe from PFAS, so you won’t be any safer by simply switching to strictly bottled water.

How Do PFAS Get Into Water?

The reality is that many, if not most, water sources today have a certain level of PFAS in them. However, this level is usually not high enough to pose a risk to human health. If high levels of PFAS contamination are present in water systems, this is most likely due to the existence of nearby disposal sites, manufacturing plants, fire stations, or military installations.

Can PFAS Be Absorbed by the Body?

Exposure to PFAS can occur in a number of ways. You may be exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the following ways.

  • Public water systems, contaminated soil, water wells, and even the air near large chemical manufacturers or other producers of PFAS
  • Indoor air in buildings that have consumer products treated with PFAS
  • Surface water, groundwater, or other drinking water sources where firefighting foams were used
  • Foods contaminated with PFAS
  • Fish taken from bodies of water with PFAS contamination
  • Non-stick cookware, pans, and food packaging with PFAS

Risks Associated with PFAS Exposure

Currently, it is not clear what the full extent of PFAS contamination may be. We know that the CDC has outlined several serious health advisories that are connected with PFAS contamination. Research from the EPA and the CDC suggests that high levels of exposure to PFAS can lead to highly negative health outcomes.

What Can PFAS Do to Humans?

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We know that prolonged exposure to PFAS and other toxic substances can result in serious illnesses and diseases. But what specific health effects are PFAS linked to? Below, we list the potential adverse health effects associated with PFAS.

  • Kidney cancer
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Decreased vaccine response
  • Thyroid disease
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Liver enzyme changes
  • Testicular cancer
  • Immune system problems
  • Other diseases and health conditions

What Are the Symptoms of PFAS Exposure?

The symptoms associated with PFAS exposure mostly depend on the type of exposure, length of exposure, and intensity of the exposure. Over time, ingesting PFAS can cause a buildup of these substances in both the body (specifically the kidneys, liver, and blood) and the surrounding environment. If the PFAS buildup results in thyroid disease, your symptoms will reflect those of thyroid disease. Additionally, the symptoms associated with PFAS exposure vary depending on the age and status of each person.

For example, an adult and child will almost certainly have different symptoms from exposure. Pregnant women are also likely to experience different symptoms and health effects from PFAS exposure.

How Are People Exposed to PFAS?

Widespread use and production of PFAS have allowed these per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances to persist in the environment and move great distances as a result of the natural processes of the world. Most United States citizens have been exposed to PFAS, according to studies from the CDC. Their research outlines several ways in which citizens can come into contact with PFAS, including the following.

  • Occupational exposure (using firefighting foams, working on military bases, or working around chemicals manufacturing and processing)
  • Drinking water contaminated with PFAS
  • Breathing air contamination with PFAS
  • Swallowing or inhaling contaminated dust or dirt
  • Eating contaminated foods or fish
  • Using products made with PFAS or packaged with PFAS

Why Are Firefighters at Greater Risk for PFAS Exposure?

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Firefighters are at a higher risk of PFAS exposure due to the nature of their jobs. There are several ways in which a firefighter may be exposed to dangerous levels of PFAS, which we list below.

  • Products made with PFAS catching fire or combusting
  • Using firefighting foam that contains PFAS
  • Using old bunker gear that contains PFAS chemicals

How to File a PFAS Contamination Lawsuit

If you have suffered serious personal injuries or illnesses as a result of PFAS contamination, you may be entitled to compensation. But how do you even begin PFAS litigation? If you have received a cancer diagnosis or a diagnosis of another serious illness after exposure to PFAS, we recommend working with personal injury lawyers who have experience in this area. Individual claimants, municipalities, and class action members have all begun to pursue compensation for their suffering. 

The first step is always to establish an attorney-client relationship with a law firm that you trust. Do they have experience in toxic tort litigation? How successful have they been in the past? It isn’t helpful to work with a lawyer who prioritizes auto accident or medical malpractice cases, as they won’t have the relevant knowledge to build a strong case for you. Our law firm will take legal action on behalf of PFAS victims and their families, build a strong case, and fight for their legal rights to compensation.

What Are Acceptable Levels of PFAS Chemical Contamination?

The scientific community is torn in terms of what the minimum acceptable level of PFAS is. This is largely due to the lack of information surrounding PFAS, as well as the differences of opinion when it comes to the maximum safe levels. According to the EPA, the maximum concentration of PFAS in water should be no higher than 70 ppt (parts per trillion). Keep in mind that it does not guarantee safety if someone never drinks more than 70 ppt. It simply allows a margin of protection for individuals and local communities.

Why Did the EPA Lower PFAS Guidelines?

In June of 2022, the EPA released updated guidelines for the maximum safe level of PFAS contamination in water. It lowered the limit from 70 ppt for both PFOS and PFOA to 0.02 ppt for PFOS and 0.004 ppt for PFOA. But why did the EPA lower its guidelines so drastically?

As more information comes out about these chemicals, the more certain we are of their toxicity to humans. For this reason, the EPA wants to protect citizens from the potentially harmful effects of PFAS by having the concentration levels in water be as close as possible to zero.

What to Do if You Have PFAS in Your Water

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If you discover that your drinking water has been contaminated with PFAS, we recommend taking the following steps. This also applies to those who live on military bases.

  • Either ask your public water utility to test the water or ask them to relay the results from their most recent test to you. If your local water utility will not test or does not have this information, you can reach out to the EPA for approved testing methods.
  • Compare your final results with your state’s acceptable standards of PFAS in drinking water. If you live in a state that has not set PFAS standards, compare your results to the EPA’s maximum safe levels.
  • If you find that the PFAS levels in your water are concerning, consider reaching out to the Environmental Protection Agency, your local health department, your water utility, and an experienced lawyer. 

Contacting a law firm is one of the best steps you can take if you discover PFAS in your water source. They can guide you through the process of determining whether or not you have a valid claim, and then filing that claim. PFAS cases are notoriously difficult, so don’t try to handle everything on your own.

Who Is Responsible for PFAS Cleanup?

This depends on who is deemed responsible for the contamination. According to the current Superfund regulations, the polluter pays for cleanup costs. This means that whoever’s actions or carelessness led to the PFAS contamination must spearhead the cleanup process. Even past owners and operators of properties can be held responsible.

However, this requires the EPA to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances. Even if state agencies and the EPA themselves are the ones handling the actual cleanup, other parties can be held accountable for the costs.

How Much Does PFAS Remediation Cost?

Samples of PFAS alone often cost several hundred dollars per sample. Cleanups could cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. According to a recent analysis by the United States Chamber of Commerce, conservatively estimated costs for PFAS cleanup at upwards of $800 million. However, this is not a complete analysis of the potential financial impacts that the contamination could have on the nation. Additionally, it is an extremely conservative number. As cleanup efforts ramp up, we should see more accurate estimates over time.

Do I Need a PFAS Contamination Lawyer?

As we mentioned earlier, PFAS cases are notoriously difficult. Without the proper legal representation, you may risk losing your chance for just compensation. At Reich & Binstock, our attorneys are investigating claims from all over the country. We will research the facts of your case, gather evidence to support your claim, and argue your case in court if necessary. Unless we secure a recovery on your behalf, you don’t pay us a cent. 

Contact a PFAS Water Contamination Cancer Lawyer Today

At Reich & Binstock, we have extensive experience handling a wide array of toxic tort claims, including those involving PFAS contamination. We can not only help you determine whether or not your area is contaminated, but we can also help you with your PFAS lawsuit. These cases are very complicated, so it takes specialized knowledge in order to litigate them. If you have suffered from adverse health effects as a result of PFAS exposure, contact Reich & Binstock to schedule your free consultation. Call our office today at 713-622-7271 or fill out our online intake form.