King County’s lawsuit against toxic PFAS 'forever chemicals' manufacturers seeks damages for the local impacts caused by past, present, and future contamination that will require treatment or cleanup.
Executive Dow Constantine today announced that King County filed a federal lawsuit against past and current PFAS manufacturers and companies that use the toxic chemicals in a wide range of products, with a focus on the use of PFAS in firefighting foam.
King County’s lawsuit seeks to hold manufacturers accountable for the costs, expenses, and impacts caused by contamination. The County’s complaint maintains that manufacturers – not the public – should pay for investigating, sampling, testing, and assessing the contamination, as well as the costs to install and maintain treatment systems and the cleanup of PFAS contamination in King County.
"Manufacturers that knowingly put toxic chemicals in products that threaten the health of our people and environment are responsible for the harm they have caused,” said Executive Constantine. “This is the latest chapter in a long history of chemical companies profiting from dangerous products while local communities pay for the harmful impacts. We’ve successfully held manufacturers responsible before, and we’ll do so again.”
PFAS – short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances – are a class of toxic chemicals used in consumer goods that include food packaging, cosmetics, cookware, upholstery cleaners, rain-resistant clothing, and more. They have been used extensively in firefighting foam that has gotten into streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater – threatening drinking water and wildlife. They are referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are intentionally designed to not break down naturally for hundreds, possibly thousands of years.
King County has assembled a team of experts representing multiple disciplines – public health, water quality, hazardous waste, and solid waste – that is working together to identify local sources of PFAS to limit community exposure as quickly as possible. They are also studying how the chemicals in local water impact fish, which can impact public health.
Removing PFAS from the environment is challenging and expensive. Preventing PFAS from entering the environment is the safest, fastest, and most cost-effective approach.
Here are a few actions residents can take to reduce the amount of PFAS in homes and communities:
- Avoid products marketed as stain- and water-resistant
- Avoid nonstick cookware, even if it says “PFOA free” because it can still contain other PFAS chemicals that can cause harmful fumes when cooking at high temperatures
- Bring your own food containers – glass is best – for takeout and leftovers
- If you fish locally, avoid consuming northern pikeminnow, bass, and carp
- Vacuum and dust your home frequently to prevent PFAS from gathering in dust and soft materials such as carpet
- Purchase PFAS-free products
- Protecting King County from PFAS
- Learn about PFAS in Washington state
- U.S. District Court Complaint, King County, Washington vs. multiple co-defendants
Manufacturers that knowingly put toxic chemicals in products that threaten the health of our people and environment are responsible for the harm they have caused. This is the latest chapter in a long history of chemical companies profiting from dangerous products while local communities pay for the harmful impacts. We’ve successfully held manufacturers responsible before, and we’ll do so again.
After decades of use of an expanding number of chemicals in its class, PFAS are now everywhere in our local environment and in our residents. PFAS have significant health impacts, and we’re learning more about the risks every day. It’s important that we protect current and future generations from PFAS exposure, and that those responsible for creating these products are held accountable.
Our goal is to stop chemical manufacturers from putting toxic chemicals in products that end up in our waterways, threatening the health of people, fish, and wildlife. They are the ones responsible for the harmful impacts and the costs for future actions, not local taxpayers.
For more information, contact:
Chase Gallagher, Executive Office, 206-263-8537