News & Insights


May 20, 2022

Chemical Currents – May 20, 2022

Chemical Currents provides real-time updates, legal observations, and actionable tips to navigate the constantly evolving legal challenges involving PFAS.  In this edition we highlight new proposed legislation in Congress, new studies involving PFAS in children’s products, and new microwave popcorn litigation.

Look for new editions approximately every two weeks and please feel free to reach out to the King & Spalding team if you have any questions regarding PFAS issues.

Focus on Legislation
Focus on Recent Studies
Focus on Litigation
What We Are Reading

Focus On Legislation
Clean Water Standards For PFAS 2.0 Act To Be Introduced In Congress
At the beginning of the month, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Chris Pappas announced a plan to introduce the Clean Water Standards for PFAS 2.0 Act.  The law would set deadlines for the EPA to develop water quality criteria and limits on industrial PFAS discharges into water and water treatment plants (in according with the EPA’s PFAS Roadmap).
Rep. Pappas stated: “No industry should be given a free pass to poison our water, and no family should ever have to wonder whether their drinking water is safe when they turn on the tap. The Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act will finally take action to hold polluters accountable, establish proactive limits for PFAS, set water quality criteria, and support communities with contaminated water. I am proud to re-introduce this legislation today, and will keep fighting to protect our water until it is enacted into law.” 

Focus On Recent Studies
New Study Reports Finding PFAS In Children’s Clothes With “Green” Labeling
A new study entitled How Well Do Product Labels Indicate the Presence of PFAS in Consumer Items Used by Children and Adolescents? was published at the beginning of the month.  The authors tested products “that children and adolescents are likely to have frequent contact with on a regular basis.” Those products included many with “green” labels, such as “nontoxic” and “chemical-free.”
The authors concluded that “PFAS are commonly found in stain- and water-resistant products used by children and adolescents, regardless of green or nontoxic assurances on product labels.”  In fact, they reported detecting PFAS in nearly 58% of children’s “waterproof” or “stain-resistant” textiles, with highest concentrations found in school uniform shirts.

Ecology Center Issues Report On PFAS In Children’s Car Seats
The Ecology Center released a report in April detailing its findings testing over 600 components of different brands of car seats.  The study reports that 4 of the 19 car seats tested contain “water- and stain-resistant fabrics likely containing PFAS, based on testing for total organic fluorine.”  It gave those brands a rating of “High Concern” (with an unhappy emoji).

The report “urge[s] car seat companies to stop using PFAS and instead make car seat and stroller covers easy to remove and wash.” 

Study Links PFAS to Liver Damage
A recent literature review and meta-analysis funded by the National Institute of Health was published at the end of April.  The authors concluded that “[d]ata from human studies consistently demonstrate an association between PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA and markers of liver injury” and that “[c]omplementary evidence from experimental rodent studies provides biological plausibility that this association may be causal.”
The article calls nonalcoholic fatty liver disease “a public health epidemic,” noting that “cases in the United States are expected to number 100.9 million, or about one-third of all adults, by 2030.”

Focus On Litigation
New Microwave Popcorn PFAS Litigation Filed
Are popping noises and melted butter aromas emanating from your microwave?  Those could be the sounds and smells of new PFAS litigation bursting onto the scene—this time involving microwave popcorn.  Two new class action complaints have been filed in the Northern District of Illinois regarding BOOMCHICKAPOP- and Orville Redenbacher-branded microwave popcorn.
The complaint and legal claims generally mirror the false advertising/consumer protection class actions filed recently regarding a variety of different products.  These two cases focus on statements contained on the popcorn’s packaging.  One states “Real, Simple Ingredients. Nothing Fake.”  The other states “only real ingredients” and “100% ingredients from natural sources.”
The complaints allege that despite “consistent and pervasive marketing of the Products as only containing natural and real ingredients, the Products actually contain significant levels of PFAS chemicals.”

What We Are Reading
EWG: ‘Forever chemicals’ may taint almost 20m acres of U.S. cropland
US News: Volunteer Firefighters Have High Levels of Potentially Toxic Chemicals
The Hill: Pentagon halts burning of ‘forever chemicals’
Midland Daily News: Michiganders warned not to eat PFAS-contaminated freshwater fish 
ChemEg: PFAS separation-concentration system introduced