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3M Hit With $214 Million in PFAS Litigation Costs in Three Months

Jan. 28, 2020, 3:30 PM

3M Co.'s efforts to manage liabilities for its history of manufacturing and disposing of ubiquitous PFAS chemicals cost the company about $214 million during the fourth quarter of 2019.

The litigation charge amounts to $0.29 per share of the company’s stock, valued at about $167 during a Tuesday earnings conference call. The company has been involved in negotiations and mediation with multiple parties over poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which have been found polluting water supplies across the country.

The company also received a grand jury subpoena in late December for PFAS discharges from its Decatur, Ala., facility, which may not have complied with permit requirements, Mike Roman, 3M’s chairman and chief executive officer, said during the Tuesday call.

The company is expanding its evaluation of sites that may have used PFAS. 3M found a similar PFAS discharge issue at its Cordova, Ill., facility, Roman said.

History of Manufacturing

3M and DuPont were the original companies developing and producing PFAS, dating to the 1940s.

Chemicals made with the particular PFAS 3M, DuPont, and the Chemours Co., a DuPont spinoff, have produced have been used by hundreds of companies such as Wolverine World Wide Inc. and W. L. Gore & Associates Inc. to make thousands of products such as semiconductors, sticky notes, and shoes.

The original PFAS manufacturers, Chemours, and some companies using the chemicals are the subject of several major PFAS-related lawsuits.

The chemicals have been used to manufacture nonstick and stain-resistant coatings in clothing, fast-food wrappers, carpets, and other consumer and industrial products.

PFAS compounds may cause adverse health effects, including developmental harm to fetuses, testicular and kidney cancer, liver tissue damage, immune system or thyroid effects, and changes in cholesterol, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sylvia Carignan in Washington at scarignan@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergenvironment.com

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