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- PFOA and PFOS, two chemicals used in 3M’s Scotchgard™ for decades, were added to a wide variety of consumer products, firefighting foams and other consumer and industrial products. The chemicals have been identified at numerous sites in Michigan, across the country, and beyond. For example, the U.S. Department of Defense has identified hundreds of active and former military installations nationwide with known or suspected releases of PFOA or PFOS. Dozens of other non-military industrial sites have been identified as well. In Michigan, PFOA and PFOS have been identified in and around at least six different current and former military installations, as well as other commercial and industrial sites where products using PFOA and PFOS were used.
- In 2017, PFOA and PFOS were identified in groundwater near Wolverine Worldwide’s former tannery and disposal sites in and around Rockford, Michigan, at levels above the EPA’s conservative lifetime health advisory level for drinking water of 70 parts per trillion (ppt). As of March 20, 2018, of the over 1,500 homes with private wells tested in the study areas, 106 are above 70 ppt. All of these homes have been provided options for safe drinking water by Wolverine Worldwide.
- Wolverine Worldwide applied 3M’s Scotchgard™ containing PFOA and PFOS to some leather manufactured at the tannery until 2002, when 3M changed its formula for Scotchgard™. 3M manufactured, marketed and sold Scotchgard™ to thousands of businesses and millions of consumers for decades. When Wolverine Worldwide disposed of the tannery byproducts some of those byproducts may have contained PFOA and/or PFOS.
- 3M approached Wolverine Worldwide in 1999 regarding the reformulation of its Scotchgard™ product, which would no longer contain PFOS. At that time, in a letter requested by the Company, 3M reconfirmed that the previous formula had “no adverse health effect” on workers who had been exposed to PFOS and, in addition, “currently available evidence does not suggest any human health effect” associated with PFOS levels found in non-workers.
- 3M continues to maintain that position, including a statement on its website in 2018 that read: “We believe that PFOS and PFOA do not present health risks at levels that 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.”