News & Insights

3m Will Discontinue Pfas Manufacturing

On December 20, 2022 3M, Inc. announced it would discontinue manufacturing of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) by the end of 2025. 3M is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of PFAS, accounting for $1.3 billion in annual sales revenue. 3M plans to scale down its PFAS manufacturing prior to the 2025 discontinuation date.

PFAS have been linked to infertility, thyroid problems, and several types of cancer. They have been used in a variety of consumer products for decades. Since the 1940s, chemical makers have used the highly durable compounds to make nonstick cookware, flame-retardant equipment, and moisture-repellent fabrics, notably 3M’s Scotchguard product. PFAS’s durability also causes them to remain in the environment indefinitely.

3M and other manufacturers of PFAS have been named as defendants in litigation across the United States. As of December 2022, 3M has been named as a defendant in 3,511 cases related to PFAS chemicals. Of these, 3,441 are consolidated in federal multidistrict litigation. 3M and other PFAS manufacturers have also been named in lawsuits by several states, including Minnesota and California, for continuing to make PFAS products despite allegedly knowing of the dangers associated with them for decades.

3M faces up to $30 billion in liability related to its PFAS manufacturing. This is in addition to a new wave of lawsuits by military veterans related to its earplug products. These lawsuits could together expose 3M to over $100 billion in liability. Because the current PFAS litigation focuses primarily on legacy products with broad environmental pollution issues already at play, the move to halt its PFAS production likely will not halt the continued onslaught of PFAS litigation against 3M. Due to the persistent nature of PFAS chemicals, it is possible that the environmental and health fallout from them will continue for many decades.

It is yet to be seen whether other PFAS producers will follow suit and discontinue production of their PFAS products. The EPA has proposed a ban on certain legacy PFAS as well as restrictions on PFAS levels in drinking water. Trade associations representing the semiconductor, phone, automobile, aerospace, and other industries have told that EPA that PFAS are critical to their production. With 3M’s exit from PFAS manufacturing, it is likely that other manufacturers, including international companies, will step in to supply the industries that utilize PFAS in their products.