That is half 2 Of two. Study half 1, about East Metro residents who marvel if 3M chemical compounds madverte them sick.
3M poisonousologist Richard Purdy did a research in 1998 to see whether or not any of The agency’s perfluorochemical compounds conagencyed up Inside the blood of eagles and albatrosses.
That appeapurple unprobably, given the birds’ food regimen consists principally of fish. So Purdy was surprised and disturbed when he found levels Inside their blood Simply like these Current in human blood. It even conagencyed up in bald eagle nestlings whose solely meals was fish their mom and father fed them from distant lakes.
That indicated what Purdy later referpurple to as “wideunfprevious environmental contamination” — the probability the manmadverte, poisonous chemical compounds have been shifting by way of the meals chain and accumulating in animals.
Purdy warned 3M that if wild birds’ blood contained the chemical compounds, then fish-consuming mammals — like otters, mink, porpoise and seals — might have it, too. A research of rats found That they hadvert vital levels of a 3M chemical Inside their livers, probably from consuming fishmeal.
He tprevious agency officers in an e-mail there was An monumental hazard of ecological harm, which Ought to be reported to the EPA.
In response, 3M supervisors dispersed the group amassing The intypeation, Purdy alleged.
Purdy resignaled in 1999 and despatched his resignalation letter to the EPA, intypeationrming them that the placeas 3M hadvert disclosed to the EPA that a chemical referpurple to as PFOS “hadvert been found Inside the blood of animals,” it didn’t level out that it was found Inside the blood of eaglets.
The EPA started investigating the chemical compounds that yr. However by then, 3M hadvert reaped billions of dollars in income from chemical compounds thOn The agency hadvert been warned have been harming the environment and hazarding human well being.
The per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) hadvert unfprevious — by way of groundwater and merchandise like Scotchgard stain repellent, Teflon cookware, meals wrapping and hearth retardants Current in — and have been displaying up Inside the blood Of people and animals in every nook of the world. They have been in almost every dwelling factor, from house mud to human blood, in wildlife Inside the Arctic circle and consuming water, rivers, streams and breast milk.
Purdy’s warnings have been clear, as revealed by typeer Lawyer Widespreadvert Lawyer Widespreadvert Lori Swanson, who sued 3M in 2010, alleging The agency failed For many yrs to report that its chemical compounds Could be poisonous to people, animals and the environment, primarytaining intypeation from regulators and scientists To shield its profitable income stream.
The morning the case was set to go to trial in 2018, after 22 hours of neacquirediation, 3M and the state settled. 3M agreed to pay $850 million To assist predespatched Minnesotans get clear consuming water.
The settlement with Minnesota is the third hugest pure resupply damage settlement in U.S. historic previous, behind the Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez oil spills.
However it quantityed To solely 2.6% of 3M’s almost $33 billion in income in 2018.
There Want to be one factor Inside the water
The agency advertmitted nofactor, and retains to Right now that its chemical compounds Have not any advertverse well being or environmental penalties.
3M spokesman Grant Thompson said in an e-mail that 3M’s place displays The loadvert of scientific proof from decadvertes of evaluation displaying publicity to PFOA and PFOS at predespatched and historic levels Current in people and the environment has not been proven to set off advertverse well being influences.
Nonetheless, 3M’s settlement with the state of Minnesota Is in all probability going The start — not The prime — of The agency’s authorized, regulatory and political challenges stemming from each the invention and dumping of the chemical compounds. 3M and fullly different corporations that madverte the chemical compounds might have to pay out billions for the damage they set offed the environment And fullly different people.
All by way of a 2019 congressional listening to, U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda of California referpurple to as the contamination Of usa residents’ consuming water, groundwater, air and meals predespatcheds a nationwide emergency.
“These corporations acquired amethod with poisoning people for Greater than a half century,” Rouda said.
In August, the EPA suggestd designalating two perfluorochemical compounds as hazardous substances beneath the Superfund regulation, Which might spark fedperiodl clearup requirements And will put chemical corporations on the hook for billions in clearup prices.
The EPA furtherly revealed new consuming water well being advertvisory levels for a quantity of perfluorochemical compounds and plans to suggest a nationwide consuming water perfluorochemical regulation quickly.
A fedperiodl decide in Charleston, S.C., furtherly dealt The agency a blow in September, denying 3M’s request For presidency contractor immunity in a mass tort case alleging 3M and fullly different corporations’ hearthfighting foam are linked to well being factors.
Judge Richard Gergel said 3M carried out over 1,000 research of perfluorochemical compounds’ influence on human well being and the environment, The outcomes of which Must have been disclosed to the EPA.
He wrote that 3M and fullly different chemical manuactualityurers “hadvert signalificantly greater intypeation than The fedperiodl authorities Regarding the properties and hazards Associated to their merchandise and knowingly withheld extremely supplies intypeation from The fedperiodl authorities.”
Nearer to 3M’s Minnesota headvertquarters, some sickened residents Inside the East Metro — the place groundwater was contaminated with 3M chemical compounds — say they’re working with attorneys on a regulationsuit.
David Sunding, a College of California Berkeley professor, revealed a 2017 report saying Washington County residents who lived in areas the place groundwater was contaminated with 3M chemical compounds hadvert elevated prices of bladvertder, breast, kidney and prostate most cancerss, As properly as to leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
3M disputes that, leveling to a 2018 Minnesota well being dehalfment report displaying thOn The genperiodl most cancers price in Washington County was “almost comparable” to the statewide common, regardless of chemical contamination.
Given the stakes of the litigation, The biggest method aheadvert for The agency — which employs 7,000 people at its huge Maplewood campus and about 13,500 statewide — will hinge Partially on The biggest method it confronts its personal historic previous with these poisonous chemical compounds.
A current Bloomberg evaluation estimated 3M liabilities for the mass torts case and anfullly different over defective earplugs might revery $30 billion, or almost half of market cap.
WhOn they knew, As quickly as they knew it
A key disadvertvantage in any 3M protection: Despite the flurry of current authorized, regulatory and political exercise, the chemical compounds’ hazards have been acknowledged — and acknowledged to 3M — For many yrs.
As early As a Outcome of the Nineteen Fifties, 3M and DuPont scientists started discowling thOn the chemical compounds have been accumulating Inside the our bodies of people and animals.
After compiling 27 million pages of docs and deposing about 200 witnesses in seven yrs, Minnesota’s typeer attorney genperiodl, Swanson, didn’t just stroll amethod after settling with 3M. She launched hundreds of inner 3M docs.
The Retypeer reseen the docs, which predespatched that agency officers have been repeatedly warned thOn the chemical compounds have been accumulating Inside the environment and detected Inside the blood of people and animals, the placeas displaying worrisome indicators of poisonousity.
As quickly as extra and again, The agency found set offs to delay a full accounting to authorities regulators, Minnesota communities, and even its personal staff. Like tobacco corporations’ tardy advertmission about its most cancers-inflicting drug and the NFL’s strategy to concussions, 3M ignopurple, delayed, minimized and obscupurple evaluation that raised purple flags Regarding the chemical compounds.
Internal 3M docs predespatched:
- In the Nineteen Fifties, 3M animal research persistently found its PFAS chemical compounds have been poisonous.
- By the early Nineteen Sixties, 3M knew the chemical compounds didn’t degradverte Inside the environment.
- 3M knew by the Nineteen Seventies its chemical compounds have been extensively predespatched Inside the blood of the genperiodl U.S. inhabitants.
- A 1970 research of fish Desipurple to be abancarried outd “to primarytain away from extreme stream air pollution” And since All of the fish died. After being uncovered to a chemical, the fish mightn’t primarytain upproper and stored crashing into the fish tank and dying.
- By 1976, 3M knew the chemical compounds have been in its plant staff’ blood at extremeer levels than regular.
- A research of a chemical’s influence on 20 rhesus monkeys in 1978 Desipurple to be aborted after 20 days beset off All of the monkeys died.
- In 1979, a 3M scientist warned that perfluorochemical compounds posed a most cancers hazard beset off They’re “acknowledged to persist For A very Very prolonged time Inside the physique and thereby give prolonged-time period continuous publicity.”
- In 1979, 3M regulationyers suggested The agency To disguise a 3M chemical compound Current in human blood.
- In 1983, 3M scientists concluded that considperiodtions about its chemical compounds “give rise to respectable questions Regarding the persistence, accumulation potential, and ecopoisonousity of fluorochemical compounds Inside the environment.”
- Purdy wrote in his resignalation letter that Inside the Nineteen Nineties, 3M tprevious evaluationers To not write dpersonal their althoughts or have e-mail discussions As a Outcome of of how their “hypothesiss” might be seen in authorized discowly.
- 3M tprevious staff to mark docs as “attorney-shopper privileged” Regardless of whether or not attorneys have been involved, the state alleged, and minutes of conferences have been edited to omit references to well being hazards.
- In 1997, 3M gave DuPont a “supplies shieldedty knowledge sheet” — which lays out potential hazards — for a chemical. It readvert, “Wrestlening: inagencys a chemical Which might set off most cancers,” citing 1983 and 1993 research by 3M and DuPont. However 3M retransferd the label That very similar yr and continued to promote the merchandise For many yrs with out warning.
Thompson, the 3M spokesman, said the docs launched by Swanson painting an “infull and misleadverting story that distorts The complete doc relating to 3M’s PFAS stewardship and who We’re as An group.”
He said 3M disclosed many research to the EPA over the course of decadvertes, collectively with on the chemical compounds’ poisonousity and “the suppliess produced and converseed about with EPA advertdressed related intypeation and factors.”
‘The wildest hellcat’
3M’s man-madverte, poisonous chemical compounds Could be hintd again to World Wrestle II, and the U.S. race to develop atomic weapons Inside The very biggest-secret Manhattan Enterprise.
Scientists used fluorine gasoline to sepaprice uranium, and discowled that when fluorine weds with carbon, the bonds are virtually inconceivable To interrupt.
After the war, A pair of of the Manhattan Enterprise scientists have been employed by the Minnesota Mining and Manuactualityuring Company (3M), which purchased the patent to develop perfluorochemical compounds, Based mostly on a 3M e-book celebrating The agency’s historic previous of chemical engineering, referpurple to as “A Chemical History of 3M.”
Figuring out The biggest Method to deal with fluorine was A critical hurdle for the scientists.
“In its pure, uncontrolled state — fortunately by no means Current in nature — It is Amongst The numerous most lively, most dangerous parts acknowledged to man,” the e-book says. “The greenish-yellow gasoline will burn metallic, water and even asbiggestos, which earned it a nickname — the wildest hellcat. Unusually, its wildness contributes to fluorine’s distinctive stability when it is mixed with sure compounds.”
When mixed with carbon, the ensuing fluorochemical can repel water and oil and Get up to hearth, which hadvert apparent enterprise potential.
3M started manuactualityuring chemical compounds in Minnesota Inside the Nineteen Fifties, and for The subsequent 50 yrs they have been used to make stain repellents, Teflon and fullly different waterproof and hearthproof merchandise.
This 1961 3M Scotchgard advert that ran in LIFE journal was going to be an exhibit Inside the state’s regulationsuit in the direction of 3M. Courtesy state of Minnesota
By the Nineteen Nineties, the chemical compounds have been In lots of shopper merchandise, Similar to window clearers, flooring waxes and polishes, supplies and leather-based shielding coatings and carpet And supplies cures.
The merchandise have been An unrestricted success, and The agency was making virtually a half a billion dollars per yr off them by 2000, when it started — On the EPA’s urging — to half out manufacturing of the chemical used to make Scotchgard. Production of fullly different chemical compounds continued.
However the chemical compounds wouldn’t go amethod simply: They don’t break dpersonal Inside the environment, They typinamey accumulate Inside the human physique.
3M worker: We pled ignorance
In 1975, a Florida professor referpurple to as 3M after he and two colleagues discowled a fluorine chemical in human blood samples from Texas and Ny.
The scientists suspected the supply might be 3M chemical compounds Utilized in Home gadgets Similar to Teflon cookware and Scotchgard.
Donald Taves, a evaluationer On the College of Rochester, first reported Inside the scientific journal Nature in 1968 thOn the genperiodl inhabitants hadvert been uncovered to the compounds. Then Taves discowled his personal blood contained it, Based mostly on a 3M doc marked “confidential,” obtained Inside the Minnesota attorney genperiodl’s regulationsuit.
Taves was working with Wrestleren Man and Wallace Brey On the College of Florida on a evaluation paper.
3M chemist G.H. Crawford took the telephone name from Taves, and advertmitted nofactor. He wrote in a confidential interoffice memo: “We (pleadverted) ignorance but suggested him that Scotchgard was a polymeric supplies not a F.C. acid.”
(Truly, by this level, The agency knew its chemical compounds accrued Inside the human physique and have been poisonous, Swanson tprevious a congressional committee. Furtherextra, Swanson advertded, 3M refused to decide the chemical compounds in its merchandise, which for a period thwarted the scientific group’s beneathstanding of their well being influences.)
3M still manuactualityures perfluorochemical compounds in Cottage Grove, As properly as to Cordova, Unproperly., Decatur, Ala., Zwijndrecht, Belgium, and Gfinishorf, Germany. Photograph by Chadvert Davis
Crawford, the 3M scientist, suggested Man get blood samples from “uncivilized areas” Similar to New Guinea “the place they don’t use An extreme quantity of Teflon cookware or Scotchgard.”
He tprevious his colleagues thOn the chemical 3M purchased to DuPont to make Teflon cookware wAs a Outcome of the “least unprobably” rationalization, but he didn’t inform Man that. Crawford wrote that he “advertopted a place of scientific curiosity and want to assist in any method potential” and tprevious Man that 3M’s people might Be In a place to “Clarify” his research discoverings.
Anfullly different inner doc reveals Man, the university evaluationer, furtherly converseed to a 3M worker recognized as J.D. LaZerte about his quest To hint dpersonal the supply of chemical compounds in human blood.
LaZerte wrote in an inner doc that he tprevious Man To not speculate.
Taves, Man and Brey later discowled plasma from blood banks in 5 cities suggested “wideunfprevious contamination of human tfactors with hint quantitys of pure fluorocompounds derived from enterprise merchandise” Similar to flooring waxes, wax paper, leather-based and supplies conditioning brokers.
After getting the telephone names from evaluationers, 3M started analyzing its fluorine compounds. Inside weeks, they found a compound that was A potential match.
By late 1975, 3M despatched staff to see Man and Taves On the College of Rochester, the place they agreed To purpose to isolate and decide fluorochemical compounds in blood.
In 1976, The agency started sampling staff’ blood.
Checks predespatcheded staff at 3M’s Cottage Grove plant referpurple to as Chemolite hadvert As a lot as 1,000 occasions The conventional quantity of fluorochemical compounds Inside their blood.
In plant after plant, elevated levels have been found, from Decatur, Alabama, to Antwerp, Belgium.
Gergel, the fedperiodl decide in South Carolina, wrote in his current ruling that although 3M assisted Man and Taves decide the compound Current in blood, The agency tprevious Nophysique else outdoors 3M for almost 1 / 4 century, regardless of The agency’s authorized obligation to alert the EPA about potential harm to human well being and the environment.
The decide cited A potential offender: 3M regulationyers, who urged 3M’s lab To not launch the true id of the compound (PFOS), Based mostly on an inner 3M document.
Gergel said It’d be affordable To deduce thOn The agency knowingly withheld intypeation that PFOS was Inside the blood of the genperiodl inhabitants and sought to discpurpleit indepfinishent scientific work Which might have disclosed this.
“3M did Greater than merely primarytain silent regardless of The agency’s intypeation thOn the thriller compound was PFOS,” Gergel wrote.
The agency went even further in its effort to obfuscate, the decide charged. In 1981, an author of an 1976 inner 3M report that conagencyed thOn the unrecognized chemical was Really PFOS revealed an article in The identical scientific journal as Man and Taves stating thOn the thriller compound was not man-madverte but was a purely occurring substance.
DuPont asks 3M for ‘defensive intypeation’
Definitely one of 3M’s largest clients was DuPont, for which it produced chemical compounds to make Teflon merchandise.
However by late 1975, DuPont was involved Regarding the potential poisonous influences of Teflon and requested 3M for “defensive intypeation” after a rat research found “sub-acute poisonousity,” Based mostly on a 3M doc.
After a 1979 meeting between 3M and DuPont, a 3M committee decided its knowledge on the chemical compounds in staff’ blood samples wasn’t important enough To inform the EPA. Minutes from the meeting said DuPont requested if 3M hadvert carried out any “continuous research” on fluorochemical compounds or deliberate any Finally. The reply was no, they wouldn’t do such research till pressured to by regulators.
3M tprevious DuPont that beset off they’d seen no advertverse human well being influences and no wideunfprevious potential for the chemical compounds To accumulate, They Did not Want To inform the EPA, Based mostly on a report by Philippe Grandjean, a Dutch scientist who predespatchedd professional testimony for the state of Minnesota in its case in the direction of 3M.
“3M both closed its eyes to the proof, or chosen purposefully To not discover it, or being beneficiant to 3M, it seems potential that 3M might have mistakenly relied on the absence of proof, regardless of the previous dictum that ‘the absence of proof Isn’t proof of absence,’ which later turned well-knpersonal in U.S. politics,” Grandjean wrote.
This 1961 Scotchgard advert in LIFE journal was going to be an exhibit Inside the state’s regulationsuit in the direction of 3M. Courtesy state of Minnesota
Employees notified of chemical compounds in blood
In 1978, 3M started notifying chemical staff that hint quantitys of chemical compounds have been found Inside the blood of staff On the Cottage Grove, Decatur and Cordova crops.
“There Didn’t Appear to be any vital grouping of abregularities,” Based mostly on confidential meeting minutes of 3M’s Fluorochemical compounds Technical Consider Committee.
The committee converseed about the potential carcinogenicity of the chemical compounds, and whether or not To inform staff and “The relevant authorities agency,” given research displaying a PFAS compound was poisonous in animals and a 1979 report on poisonousity research on monkeys and rats found PFOS was “certainly extra poisonous than anticipated.”
However beset off there was “no proof of ill influences,” the committee decided it didn’t repredespatched A substantial hazard based on EPA ideas pertaining to the Toxic Substances Administration Act, which regulates chemical compounds.
The committee decided To primarytain publicity to all fluorochemical compounds to a minimal in all actualityory opperiodtions, and look into monitoring worker urine.
However it was turning into more and more clear that a quantity of of the chemical compounds have been poisonous. Soon after, a 3M research of two chemical compounds found they have been “More probably to persist Inside the environment for extfinished intervals.”
“As a Outcome of of apparent persistence Of these fluorochemical compounds Inside the physique, An important question reprimarys potential prolonged-time period influences,” the report said.
Excellent poisonousologist warns ‘we might have a Significant problem’
In the spring of 1979, 3M officers met On the Hilton Lodge in San Francisco To converse Regarding their fluorochemical research and The Long time period.
Additionally they heard from poisonousologist Harprevious Hodge, a professor from the College of California, which dubbed him “the dean Of yank poisonousology.”
An epidemiology research was being carried out on 3,500 people, but So far There have been no “unusual” set offs of demise.
Hodge useful The agency research the carcinogenicity of its chemical compounds.
Every week later, Hodge requested that 3M advertd to the meeting minutes that it was of “utmost signalificance” thOn The agency research whether or not a sure chemical was predespatched in people, at what diploma, and the diploma of its persistence.
“If The levels are extreme and wideunfprevious and the half-life is prolonged, we might have a Significant problem,” Hodge warned.
Months later, 3M scientist M.T. Case expressed comparable considperiodtions — as “accountable 3M scientists” — Regarding The scarcity of continuous poisonousity knowledge A quantity of yr after the rat research have been carried out.
“I think about it is parquantity To start now an evaluation of the potential (if any) of Long time period (carcinogenic) influences for these compounds That are acknowledged to persist For A very Very prolonged time Inside the physique and thereby give Long time period continuous publicity,” Case wrote in a memo.
‘3M will probably be embarrassed’
Other 3M staff have been making an try To impact The agency To return clear.
After a CaliforniAn group purchased hearthfighting foam from 3M, it later found that 3M chemist Eric Reiner tprevious the shopper thOn The froth wasn’t biodegradvertable, opposite to 3M’s advertvertising clpurposes.
Livid, the shopper wrote to 3M in 1988, demanding An proof.
Reiner implopurple agency officers to do tests on the biodegradvertability of the chemical compounds, nameing out these accountable in an inner memo.
“I don’t assume it is in 3M’s prolonged-time period curiosity to perpetuate The parable thOn these fluorochemical suractualityants are biodegradvertable,” he wrote. “It is possible that this Misunderstanding will eventually be discowled, and when that occurs, 3M will probably be embarrassed, and we and our clients Could Even be fined And compelled To proper amethod withdraw merchandise from the market.”
Three yrs later, agency officers have been still debating whether or not To review the environmental influences of fluorochemical compounds. A draft proposal for a research of prolonged-time period influences famous The disadvertvantage with earlier research wAs a Outcome of there’s not often a single fluorochemical Inside the product, making genperiodlizations troublesome.
“Maybe An important conclusion from earlier research is The steadvertiness of fluorochemical compounds although stability Is Amongst The numerous most fascinating properties fluorochemical compounds possess,” it said. “For A lot of purposes, from an environmental perspective, stability connotes persistence which Could be The rationale for concern particularly when coupled with fullly different properties… taken collectively, stability, the tfinishency to bioaccumulate, and organic exercise are A potentially troublesome combination.”
3M Vice chairman delays reporting to EPA
By the mid-Nineteen Nineties, that “probably troublesome combination” was turning Right into a menace to 3M.
The agency’s Toxic Substances Administration Act committee useful in 1998 that 3M notify the EPA and FDA thOn the chemical compounds have been extensively Current in human blood.
A “communications plan” included steps for an “orderly exit” from the market.
However one month later, 3M Group Vice President Charles Reich tprevious the committee he decided Insteadvert to do a review with a “wider spectrum” of inner and exterior specialists.
“I’ve concluded that 3M Isn’t predespatchedly in possession Of intypeation Which Could Even be new to EPA and that pretty assists a conclusion Which means A substantial hazard of damage to human well being or the environment,” he wrote.
This, regardless of decadvertes of evaluation suggesting fullly differentwise.
3M finally notified the EPA in May 1998 that a fluorochemical (PFOS) was found Inside the genperiodl inhabitants’s blood at “very low” levels. The agency said its research of 3M staff found “no advertverse influences,” saying, “3M Does not think about that any affordable basis exists to conclude that PFOS predespatcheds A substantial hazard of damage to well being or the environment.”
Judge Gergel currently famous that regardless of these assurances, 3M’s supervisor of corporat poisonousology, John Howeverenhoff, urged 3M in 1998 To tradverte “PFOS-based chemistry As a Outcome of these compounds [are] VERY persistent and thus insidiously poisonous.”
Howeverenhoff calculated a “shielded” diploma of PFOS in human blood at Barely Greater than 1 half per billion. However 3M’s personal research from roughly The identical interval found that PFOS concentrations Inside the blood of Most of the people have been Inside the differ of 30 parts per billion.
Gergel said Howeverenhoff’s discoverings have been by no means reported to the EPA and have been revealed solely during discowly Inside the hearthfighting foam litigation.
‘This chemical is extra safe than many rocks’
By 1998, 3M poisonousologist Richard Purdy, the one researching chemical compounds in eagles and albatrosses, was rising more and more involved about these research Of untamed birds.
On Dec. 3, 1998, Purdy said in an e-mail there was An monumental hazard of ecological harm, which Ought to be reported to the EPA, warning, “The levels We’re seeing in eagles and fullly different biota is More probably to climb Yearly.”
He wasn’t alone.
In March 1999, a 3M worker e-mailed a quantity of colleagues and 3M’s genperiodl counsel, Thomas J. DiPasquale, questioning why three months hadvert handed since a committee hadvert reseen Purdy’s hypothesis on meals chain contamination.
DiPasquale wasn’t in A rush, although.
“I’m Not sure There is A necessity to assist or refute the hypothesis within any particular Time physique,” he replied.
Purdy, who was on The e-mail chain, retorted: “Plan! That is the identical stalling method You have been using for the final yr.”
“There is a extreme probability that PFOS is killing marine mammals And also you’d like anfullly different plan As quickly as we might have hadvert knowledge to assist The hazard evaluation Way again,” Purdy wrote. “You purchased a plan in 1983. As quickly as extra Inside the early 90s. And you accredited no testing.”
This undated photograph displaying open burning of drums in a landfill was an exhibit Inside the state regulationsuit in the direction of 3M. Courtesy state of Minnesota.
Meanthe placeas, his preliminary evaluation indicated grpersonalup eagles hadvert 50 occasions as a lot PFOS Inside their plasma As a Outcome of the eaglets.
“For two0 yrs the diimaginative and prescient has been stalling The gathering of knowledge needed for evaluating the environmental influence of fluorochemical compounds,” Purdy wrote. “PFOS Might be the most onerous pollutant since PCB And also you should primarytain away from amassing knowledge that signalifies that it is in all probability worse. I am outraged.”
Two days later, Purdy resignaled, and aheadverted his resignalation letter to the EPA.
“I’ve regularly met roadvertblocks, delays, and indecision. For weeks on finish I’ve acquired assurances that my samples Can be analyzed quickly — by no means to see end outcomes. There are On A daily basis excuses and little is accomplished,” he wrote.
3M continued to make the chemical compounds after Purdy warned they have been unfpreviousing by way of the meals chain and harming sea mammals.
“This chemical is extra safe than many rocks,” he wrote. “And the chemical compounds The agency is think abouting for alternative Are only as safe and biologinamey out there. The hazard evaluation I pertypeed was straightaheadvert, And by no means worst case.”
3M tprevious the people Engaged on the fluorochemical project To not write dpersonal their althoughts or have e-mail discussions As a Outcome of of how their hypothesis Could be seen in potential litigation, Purdy alleged.
“For me it is uinternethical to be involved with markets, authorized defensibility and picture over environmental shieldedty,” he wrote.
Purdy Didn’t Reply to a request for remark, but his view of 3M’s conduct appeapurple To soften over time. In an interview with MPR from his Wisconsin farm in 2005, he spoke “with satisfaction” Regarding The agency’s funding in science and chemical compounds.
“3M is like somephysique who ran the sprime signal, acquired by way of the sprime signal, ‘Oh my God,’ and sprimeped,” he was quoted saying.
3M starts working to ‘command the science’
With the EPA on discover, the agency pressupurple 3M to sprime manuactualityuring the compound Utilized in Scotchgard (PFOS) Inside the U.S. in 2000. Six yrs later, the EPA fined The agency for not turning over lots of of reviews on the chemical compounds’ poisonousity.
The EPA said 3M’s personal knowledge indicated its chemical compounds didn’t break dpersonal And will pose An extfinished-time period menace to human well being and the environment.
Nonetheless, the Minnesota Pollution Administration Agency didn’t start investigating the chemical compounds For two yrs, Based mostly on MPR, which reported That Every one the agency hadvert on file for 3M’s Cottage Grove plant in 2001 was a press clipping headvertlined “Scotchgard sticks Inside the environment.”
As quickly as 3M hadvert finally alerted regulators, The agency labored on a communications plan.
The primary objective: “Protect and enhance 3M’s popularity.”
Certainly, its primary concern Appeared to be controlling the narrative Throughout the science. The plan included An inventory of “extreme-precedence” candidates to be spokespersons for The agency, collectively with Michigan State College professor John Giesy, a 3M advertvisor on environmental research. 3M worker Dale Bacon said he would gauge Giesy’s curiosity.
3M needed to get scientific papers on their chemical compounds revealed earlier than fullly differents, Based mostly on inner e-mails.
A 2003 inner memo conagencyed 3M Attempting to fund outdoors evaluation using 3M “grant” money, notably with Individuals who Can be influential in hazard evaluation and “fullly different science covperiodge problems.”
Amongst their movement gadgets: Develop An inventory of 3M and “enterprise-most properly-appreciated” nominees for science advertvisory panels.
Giesy was The good candidate. He was editor of Greater than half The tutorial journals about PFAS And althought of an indepfinishent professional.
3M went on to pay Giesy to review and share research with 3M earlier than they have been revealed, Minnesota alleged in its regulationsuit in the direction of 3M.
It started when Giesy e-mailed 3M officers in August 2000 intypeationrming The agency he hadvert a draft manuscript readverty and needed to submit it to Science earlier than fullly differents beat him to it.
“I really feel It Is Sort of important publish our work earlier than theirs,” Giesy wrote. “In any other case, it appears like we (ie 3M) was pressupurple into the investigations They’ve carried out and subsequent launch of The intypeation.”
A 3M official warned his colleagues that publishing the paper “might set off A sequence response of hypothesis That would reopen the problem with the media and transfer it again to a well being story; one factor up-to-now We now have primarytain away fromed.”
Insteadvert, the 3M official wrote thOn The agency should primarytain “our” scientific publications “in The biggest order as we hadvert alreadverty agreed,” noting he presumed Giesy’s work was carried out beneath contract with 3M and was solely publishable “if and As quickly as we agree.”
The official advertded, however: “We Can furtherly’t dilly dally round both. It is going to take Various sensitivity And fullly different people expertise to convey Dr. Giesy round to our assumeing on this and To make sure he doesn’t misread our place as making an try To cowl the winnie. We just need the winnie Inside the bun, full with shouldard and ketchup.”
3M went on to develop a advertising campaign to “command the science” and create “defensive impediments to litigation,” the state alleged in its regulationsuit, by selectively funding outdoors evaluation and modifying scientific papers earlier than they have been revealed.
“The agency, sadvertly, engaged in a advertising campaign To cowl its personal research and to, Really, type the science by way of the funding Of these fullly different research,” Swanson tprevious Congress.
Sprinklers spray water over the grass on 3M’s Maplewood headvertquarters Monday, Sept. 12, 2022. Photograph by Nicole Neri/Minnesota Retypeer
Giesy defined The biggest method it labored in a March 2008 e-mail to 3M Laboratory Manager William Reagen: He edited A lot of PFAS papers for scientific journals, but in his 3M billings, he listed the work as “litperiodture searches” on occasionsheets “so thOn there was no paper path to 3M.”
“Some journals will permit this, but fullly differents, for battle of curiosity factors, Will not permit an indusAttempt to review a paper about one of their merchandise,” he wrote. “That is the place I acquired here in for Dale (Bacon, the 3M worker).”
Giesy said in a later e-mail “Dale (Bacon) hadvert me doing factors To primarytain a finger on The center beat of factors Occurring Around the globe, particularly To purpose To primarytain dangerous papers out of the litperiodture.”
The state regulationsuit alleged 3M paid Giesy A minimal of $2 million, and that he hadvert a internet worth of about $20 million regardless of working at public universities most of his profession.
3M data predespatched he was first paid by The agency in 1993. Starting in 1998, Entrix, Inc. — Giesy’s environmental consulting agency — was paid almost $1.7 million for his work by way of 2009, at a price of $275 an hour, Based mostly on one billing.
By 2008, the ardifferment Appeared to be ending. In an e-mail, Giesy provided some closing phrases:
“My private advertvise (sic) is That you merely should primarytain ‘dangerous’ papers out of the litperiodture, fullly differentwise in litigation circumstances They might be An monumental impediment to refute,” he wrote. “Judges Appear to be of the opinion that if intypeation is Inside the peer-reseen, open litperiodture, it is right.”
Giesy — who now works On the College of Saskatchewan — Didn’t Reply to multiple requests for remark, but Prior to now he has denied any wrongdoing. He said he was solely making an try To primarytain errors out of the litperiodture — and accused Swanson of making an try to smear his popularity beset off he refused to be an professional for the state.
“The docs converse for themselves,” Swanson said in an interview.
Goal: ‘Sell PFCs as prolonged and as broadvertly as We will’
For Greater than 1 / 4 century, 3M has acknowledged its fluorochemical compounds might have devastating penalties for The agency’s prolonged-time period monetary well being.
A 1995 inner stpricegic planning doc said “impediment No. 1” to 3M’s primary imaginative and prescient in its chemical enterprise was “the persistence of fluorochemical compounds,” and “environmental, well being, shieldedty and regulatory factors and trfinishs that menaceen to restrict our enterprise.”
Amongst the “key movements” listed: “Proceed To take care of regulatory approval to promote PFCs as prolonged and as broadvertly as We will.”
It’s straightaheadvert To know why they have been so dedicated to the chemical compounds, regardless of The huge hazards: $500 million per yr in income, yr after yr after yr.
“Unfortunately, it succeeded for Greater than 50 yrs,” Swanson tprevious Congress. “And now states And native authoritiess Throughout the nation are grappling with The end outcomes.”
To Right now, 3M still manuactualityures perfluorochemical compounds in Cottage Grove, As properly as to Cordova, Unproperly., Decatur, Ala., Zwijndrecht, Belgium, and Gfinishorf, Germany.