3M announced Thursday that it had reached an agreement to settle lawsuits that claimed that toxic “forever chemicals” had contaminated water supplies in the United States.
The company — which produces Post-It notes, Scotch Tape, and n95 masks, among other industrial products — said it would pay up to $10.3 billion over 13 years to fund public water suppliers in the US that have detected these chemicals in drinking water.
Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as “forever chemicals,” have been found in hundreds of household items, including makeup and carpeting, and are used to make coatings that repel water, grease, and oil.
The settlement comes after 3M faced thousands of lawsuits for the last two decades over its manufacturing of products containing PFAS. These lawsuits allege that 3M knew PFAS caused cancer, developmental defects and other health problems, and that the chemicals contaminated US drinking water systems.
Last year, 3M said it would stop producing the controversial chemicals by the end of 2025.
3M’s proposed settlement comes just weeks after three other companies, Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva, announced they would pay more than $1 billion to settle lawsuits over “forever chemicals.”
Earlier this year, the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed national drinking water standards for PFAS chemicals, based on evidence that they have been found to linger in the environment and in the human body.
3M said its multi-billion dollar settlement is not an admission of liability. If the settlement agreement is not approved by a court, the company said it would be prepared to continue defending itself against litigation.
“This is an important step forward for 3M, which builds on our actions that include our announced exit of PFOA and PFOS manufacturing more than 20 years ago, our more recent investments in state-of-the-art water filtration technology in our chemical manufacturing operations, and our announcement that we will exit all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025,” said 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman, in a statement.
3M’s stock rose by more than 5% in after-hours trading after the company announced the settlement.