What is PFAS Contamination?
Certain hazardous so-called “forever chemicals” have infiltrated drinking water supplies and contaminated real estate across the nation, yet most people have never heard of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as “PFAS.” This family of chemicals also includes perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
PFAS chemicals are one of the primary components of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), which is used to extinguish fuel fires in a number of settings (fire stations, fire training schools, military bases, airports, etc). AFFF works to extinguish fires by creating a thin layer over the fuel, preventing the flow of oxygen to the fire. PFAS are also present in various household and industrial products.
PFAS do not break down in the human body or in the environment, causing them to bioaccumulate over time – hince their moniker “forever chemicals.” As a result, PFAS are both a potential environmental pollutant and a threat to human health. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established health advisories for PFOA and PFOS based on peer-reviewed studies linking them to negative health impacts. Adverse human health effects that may result from certain levels of exposure include:
- Developmental issues in fetuses or breastfed infants (e.g., accelerated puberty, skeletal variations and low birth rate)
- Cancer (e.g., kidney, testicular)
- Liver effects and tissue damage
- Immune effects (e.g., decreased antibody production)
- Thyroid effects
- Cholesterol changes
It has been known since the 1970s that PFAS are harmful, yet manufacturers continued to sell PFAS-containing fire fighting foams until at least 2000. As a result, PFAS are now found throughout the country, in public drinking water supplies, private wells and elsewhere.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), people can be exposed to PFAS in several ways:
- Drinking contaminated water
- Eating fish caught from PFAS-contaminated water
- Eating food that was packaged in PFAS-containing material (e.g., fast food containers, microwavable popcorn bags, candy wrappers)
- Using certain consumer products (e.g., non-stick cookware, stain resistant carpeting, personal care products and cosmetics)
- Accidentally swallowing PFAS contaminated dust or soil
PFAS contamination can be remediated, but techniques for doing so are limited and costly. Young & Partners has extensive experience representing government entities in pollution litigation, including but not limited to PFAS, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, and the Volkswagen diesel emissions tampering case. Let our firm help your local community recoup the cost associated with remediation, so that your constituents and customers can once again have confidence in the safety of their drinking water supplies.
About the Firm
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Young & Partners’ practice is national in scope, as we have trusted co-counsel relationships with leading law firms in all fifty states.
Founding Partner Tom Young has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for victims of various major disasters over the past 20 years, including the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2015 Volkswagen “dieselgate” emissions scandal, recent devastating hurricanes along the East Coast, and the ongoing nationwide opioid epidemic. Young holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics and a Juris Doctor, with Honors, from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. While there, Young was one of the first students awarded a Certificate in Environmental & Land Use Law. Young’s practice includes educating and assisting consumers, businesses, nonprofit organizations and government entities in understanding their rights as they pertain to losses due to negligence or disaster, in both state and federal court. Importantly, we only represent plaintiffs, not defendants, and never insurance companies.
Recently, Young turned his attention to providing legal services to individuals suffering from failed hernia mesh surgical procedures. Many such hernia mesh products on the market are subpar and fail at unacceptable rates. Young represents those who have required follow up revision surgery to remove or replace failing mesh.
He is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, the Golden Key International Honor Society, the Florida Bar, the District of Columbia Bar, the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., the Florida Justice Association, and the American Association for Justice (formerly the Academy of Trial Lawyers of America). Young was the 2012-2018 President of the Civil Justice Foundation and a former AAJ state delegate.