What are PFAS?
Think about non-stick pans, waterproof cosmetics, and even certain firefighting foams. All these, and more, contain PFAS – a group of chemicals that don’t break down easily in the environment. In other words, they are pollutants, and they are more common than you think. In fact, they’re everywhere, and their inability to break down easily has earned them the name, ‘forever chemicals.’
The U.S. litigation wave
The U.S. has been buzzing with over 6,500 lawsuits related to PFAS in the last two decades. Big names, like 3M, have faced billion-dollar settlements. Johanne Desloges, head of commercial and surety claims at Aviva Canada, indicates that while manufacturers are currently the main target, no industry is immune, including retail giants like Kroger in the United States, who’ve faced legal challenges over PFAS.
Is Canada next?
Yes, it seems so. Canadian headlines already feature PFAS-related cases. In a class action lawsuit, homeowners in Ontario allege the National Research Council’s facility polluted local drinking water and devalued their homes. In a separate case, a firefighter claimed his testicular cancer was caused by exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam in court – and won. Desloges believes we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
What can you do for your business?
- Stay informed: Understand if and how PFAS impacts your business.
- Be proactive: Check for PFAS sources in your operations. If found, consider safer alternatives.
- Risk management: If you’re buying or selling land, be diligent. Handle PFAS-contaminated materials properly and always disclose potential liabilities to your broker.
The PFAS tide is rising, and it’s better to be prepared than caught off-guard. Contact us to learn about this emerging trend and gain insights tailored to your business.