Global polluter 3M pledges to stop manufacturing toxic ‘forever chemicals’

EWG: Announcement is too little, too late

WASHINGTON – Today 3M announced that by the end of 2025 it will stop manufacturing the toxic "forever chemicals" known as PFAS and work to discontinue their use. But it’s too little, too late, because 3M has known for more than 50 years that PFAS chemicals are toxic.

“After telling everyone – their neighbors, their workers and their regulators – that PFAS are safe while poisoning the entire planet, 3M is now pledging to slink out the back door with no accountability,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “Congress and the courts cannot allow this to happen, and no one should trust 3M’s commitment to do the right thing. They never have before.”

Global polluter 3M has engaged in decades of deception, knowing its PFAS products were toxic but hiding that information from the public. It’s why babies in the womb are born pre-polluted with toxic PFAS, and why PFAS exposure is a problem throughout the U.S.

EWG estimates there may be more than 40,000 industrial polluters of PFAS in the U.S. More than 200 million Americans could be drinking water contaminated with PFAS.

“3M’s recognition that it should not be spewing these PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ into our world is decades overdue,” said Robert Bilott, the attorney who uncovered the widespread presence of PFAS and whose story is told in his book “Exposure” and the movie “Dark Waters.”

“What remains to be seen is whether 3M will ever accept responsibility and pay to clean up the unprecedented global contamination and damage it has already caused, including contamination of drinking water supplies, soil, wildlife and people – all across the planet,” said Bilott. “The taxpayers and innocent victims of this contamination should not be paying to clean up the mess 3M caused.”

PFAS build up in our bodies and never break down in the environment. Very low doses of PFAS have been linked to suppression of the immune system, including reduced vaccine efficacy. These chemicals harm development and the reproductive system, such as reduced birth weight and impacts on fertility; increase risk of certain cancers; and affect metabolism, such as changes in cholesterol and weight gain. 

Toxic PFAS also are suspected endocrine disruptors, which can mimic or throw off the regular functioning of the hormone system, causing a wide range of health problems.

PFAS are in thousands of consumer and industrial products. It’s virtually impossible to avoid being exposed to these substances. They’re in almost everything we encounter every day, many times a day – cosmetics, tap water, dust, furniture, cookware, clothing, food like fruit and vegetables that have residues of pesticides on them, food storage containers and packaging. 

“Everyone who has raised their voice to highlight the damage PFAS have done to people and the planet, or used their power to protect people from these toxic substances, should know this: They are making a difference,” said Faber, referring to 3M’s statement. “Everyone who is being polluted without their knowledge and their consent should feel emboldened by today’s announcement with the power to do something about it.”

“Instead of fighting the federal, state and international regulators who are trying to protect the public from the serious harms of PFAS and continuing to deny the science linking these chemicals with disease, 3M should be working to find ways to fully support and fund studies and monitoring of those exposed,” said Bilott.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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