3M’s Scotchgard™, PFOA/PFOS and Wolverine

There has been a significant amount of attention paid in recent weeks to what we or others knew about the presence and risks of PFOA/PFOS in 3M’s Scotchgard™. We wanted to take a moment to clear up any misconceptions and make sure you have the facts.

First, for over four decades 3M manufactured, marketed, and sold Scotchgard™ product containing PFOA/PFOS to the public. Since announcing the phase-out of that version of Scotchgard™, 3M has repeatedly assured Wolverine and the public that there are no adverse effects on human health or the environment from Scotchgard™ containing PFOA/PFOS. As Wolverine proactively collects data and works with the community, agencies, and other partners to find answers and restore the community’s confidence in its drinking water, it is looking for 3M’s expert knowledge and research on the PFOA/PFOS compounds that were in Scotchgard™. To date, however, 3M has not engaged with Wolverine to discuss this situation.

Second, 3M has repeatedly assured Wolverine, the EPA, FDA, and scientific bodies that there are no adverse effects on human health or the environment from the PFOA/PFOS compounds in Scotchgard™. For example,

– After a meeting with 3M in 1999, Wolverine asked 3M to send it a letter summarizing the points 3M had raised about PFOS and Scotchgard™. This January 15, 1999 letter confirmed 3M was studying the potential effects of Scotchgard™, that “[n]o adverse health effect associated with PFOS exposure has been found in 3M employees” exposed to much higher levels of PFOS than the general population, and that 3M was advising the EPA and other regulatory agencies of its findings.

– By 2000, 3M began communicating with its customers about a Scotchgard™ formula change because PFOA/PFOS were “persistent in the environment.” Wolverine met with 3M to learn more about the change, and 3M again assured Wolverine that no adverse health or environmental effects were associated with PFOA/PFOS.

– Even after publicly announcing its formula change in 2000, 3M continued to produce and sell Scotchgard™ containing PFOA/PFOS for another two years.

– Based on years of research, 3M continues to state that there are no adverse health effects associated with the PFOA/PFOS compounds in its discontinued Scotchgard™ product. As 3M states on its website today (https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/sustainability-us/policies-reports/3m-and-fluorochemicals/), “We believe that PFOS and PFOA do not present health risks at levels they are typically found in the environment or in human blood” and that even “production workers who were exposed to these chemicals at levels significantly higher than those in the general population – often over an extended period of time . . . show no adverse health effects.”

Third, the conclusions 3M makes about its years of research have not been disproven.  The CDC also notes that “health effects can be caused by many different factors and there is no way to know if PFAS exposure has caused [] health problems or made [them] worse.”  Wolverine published a blog post discussing the science behind PFOS/PFOA here: https://wearewolverine.com/2017/11/20/key-facts-to-know-about-pfas-from-toxicologist-dr-janet-anderson-ph-d-dabt/ 

Finally, we acknowledge the fact that there is some misunderstanding about what we knew and when about the presence of PFOA/PFOS in Scotchgard™.  We never intended to infer that we did not know PFOA/PFOS was in Scotchgard™ and we sincerely apologize for any confusion.  For over a hundred years, Wolverine has been not only a leader and contributor to this community, but we’ve also been your neighbor – that’s why we’ve provided drinking water testing, bottled water, single-tap filters and whole house filtration systems.  We’re committed to doing the right thing and seeing this through to the end, and will continue to keep the community updated about these issues through our blog at www.WeAreWolverine.com.