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Poisonous: 3M knew its chemical compounds have been dangerous many years in the past, however didn’t inform the general public, authorities

Poisonous: 3M knew its chemical compounds have been dangerous many years in the past, however didn’t inform the general public, authorities

2023-12-17 13:30:47

That is half 2 of two. Read part 1, about East Metro residents who marvel if 3M chemical compounds made them sick. 

3M toxicologist Richard Purdy did a study in 1998 to see whether or not any of the corporate’s perfluorochemicals confirmed up within the blood of eagles and albatrosses.

That appeared unlikely, given the birds’ food plan consists principally of fish. So Purdy was shocked and disturbed when he discovered ranges of their blood just like these present in human blood. It even confirmed up in bald eagle nestlings whose solely meals was fish their mother and father fed them from distant lakes.

That indicated what Purdy later called “widespread environmental contamination” — the probability the artifical, poisonous chemical compounds have been transferring by means of the meals chain and accumulating in animals.

Purdy warned 3M that if wild birds’ blood contained the chemical compounds, then fish-eating mammals — like otters, mink, porpoise and seals — might have it, too. A examine of rats discovered that they had vital ranges of a 3M chemical of their livers, seemingly from consuming fishmeal. 

He advised firm officers in an email there was a major danger of ecological hurt, which needs to be reported to the EPA.

In response, 3M managers dispersed the crew amassing the info, Purdy alleged.

Purdy resigned in 1999 and despatched his resignation letter to the EPA, informing them that whereas 3M had disclosed to the EPA {that a} chemical referred to as PFOS “had been discovered within the blood of animals,” it didn’t point out that it was discovered within the blood of eaglets.

The EPA started investigating the chemical compounds that yr. However by then, 3M had reaped billions of {dollars} in income from chemical compounds that the corporate had been warned have been harming the setting and risking human well being. 

The per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) had unfold — by means of groundwater and merchandise like Scotchgard stain repellent, Teflon cookware, meals wrapping and fireplace retardant — and have been exhibiting up within the blood of individuals and animals in each nook of the world. They have been in almost each residing factor, from home mud to human blood, in wildlife within the Arctic circle and ingesting water, rivers, streams and breast milk. 

Purdy’s warnings have been clear, as revealed by former Lawyer Common Lawyer Common Lori Swanson, who sued 3M in 2010, alleging the corporate failed for many years to report that its chemical compounds may very well be poisonous to people, animals and the setting, preserving info from regulators and scientists to guard its profitable income stream. 

The morning the case was set to go to trial in 2018, after 22 hours of negotiation, 3M and the state settled. 3M agreed to pay $850 million to assist present Minnesotans clear ingesting water. 

The settlement with Minnesota is the third largest pure useful resource harm settlement in U.S. historical past, behind the Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez oil spills. 

Nevertheless it amounted to simply 2.6% of 3M’s almost $33 billion in income in 2018. 

The corporate admitted nothing, and maintains to this present day that its chemical compounds haven’t any hostile well being or environmental penalties. 

3M spokesman Grant Thompson stated in an electronic mail that 3M’s place displays the burden of  scientific proof from many years of analysis exhibiting publicity to PFOA and PFOS at present and historic ranges present in folks and the setting has not been proven to trigger hostile well being results.

There must be something in the water

Nonetheless, 3M’s settlement with the state of Minnesota is probably going the start — not the tip — of the corporate’s authorized, regulatory and political challenges stemming from each the invention and dumping of the chemical compounds. 3M and different firms that made the chemical compounds could must pay out billions for the harm they brought about the setting and folks. 

Throughout a 2019 congressional listening to, U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda of California called the contamination of Individuals’ ingesting water, groundwater, air and meals provides a nationwide emergency.

“These firms obtained away with poisoning folks for greater than a half century,” Rouda stated.

In August, the EPA proposed designating two perfluorochemicals as hazardous substances underneath the Superfund regulation, which might spark federal cleanup requirements and will put chemical firms on the hook for billions in cleanup prices. 

The EPA additionally revealed new ingesting water well being advisory ranges for a number of perfluorochemical compounds and plans to suggest a nationwide ingesting water perfluorochemical regulation quickly.

A federal decide in Charleston, S.C., additionally dealt the corporate a blow in September, denying 3M’s request for presidency contractor immunity in a mass tort case alleging 3M and different firms’ firefighting foam are linked to well being issues.

Decide Richard ​​Gergel stated 3M carried out over 1,000 research of perfluorochemicals’ impact on human well being and the setting, the outcomes of which ought to have been disclosed to the EPA. 

He wrote that 3M and different chemical producers “had considerably higher information than the federal government in regards to the properties and dangers related to their merchandise and knowingly withheld extremely materials info from the federal government.”

Nearer to 3M’s Minnesota headquarters, some sickened residents within the East Metro — the place groundwater was contaminated with 3M chemical compounds — say they’re working with attorneys on a lawsuit. 

David Sunding, a College of California Berkeley professor, revealed a 2017 report saying Washington County residents who lived in areas the place groundwater was contaminated with 3M chemical compounds had elevated charges of bladder, breast, kidney and prostate cancers, in addition to leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

3M disputes that, pointing to a 2018 Minnesota well being division report exhibiting that the general most cancers price in Washington County was “nearly an identical” to the statewide common, regardless of chemical contamination.  

Given the stakes of the litigation, the way forward for the corporate — which employs 7,000 folks at its huge Maplewood campus and about 13,500 statewide — will hinge partially on the way it confronts its personal historical past with these poisonous chemical compounds. 

A latest Bloomberg evaluation estimated 3M liabilities for the mass torts case and one other over faulty earplugs might attain $30 billion, or almost half of market cap. 

What they knew, once they knew it

A key drawback in any 3M protection: Regardless of the flurry of latest authorized, regulatory and political exercise, the chemical compounds’ risks have been identified — and identified to 3M — for many years. 

As early because the Fifties, 3M and DuPont scientists started discovering that the chemical compounds have been accumulating within the our bodies of people and animals. 

After compiling 27 million pages of paperwork and deposing about 200 witnesses in seven years, Minnesota’s former legal professional normal, Swanson, didn’t simply stroll away after settling with 3M. She launched thousands of internal 3M documents

The Reformer reviewed the paperwork, which present that firm officers have been repeatedly warned that the chemical compounds have been accumulating within the setting and detected within the blood of people and animals, whereas exhibiting worrisome indicators of toxicity. 

Repeatedly, the corporate discovered causes to delay a full accounting to authorities regulators, Minnesota communities, and even its personal employees. Like tobacco firms’ tardy admission about its cancer-causing drug and the NFL’s strategy to concussions, 3M ignored, delayed, minimized and obscured analysis that raised pink flags in regards to the chemical compounds. 

Inside 3M paperwork present: 

  • Within the Fifties, 3M animal research constantly discovered its PFAS chemical compounds have been poisonous.
  • By the early Nineteen Sixties, 3M knew the chemical compounds didn’t degrade within the setting.
  • 3M knew by the Seventies its chemical compounds have been broadly current within the blood of the final U.S. inhabitants.
  • A 1970 study of fish needed to be deserted “to keep away from extreme stream air pollution” and since all of the fish died. After being uncovered to a chemical, the fish couldn’t keep upright and stored crashing into the fish tank and dying.
  • By 1976, 3M knew the chemical compounds have been in its plant employees’ blood at larger ranges than regular.
  • A examine of a chemical’s impact on 20 rhesus monkeys in 1978 had to be aborted after 20 days as a result of all of the uncovered monkeys  died.
  • In 1979, a 3M scientist warned that perfluorochemicals posed a most cancers danger as a result of they’re “identified to persist for a very long time within the physique and thereby give long-term continual publicity.”
  • In 1979, 3M attorneys advised the corporate to hide a 3M chemical compound present in human blood.
  • In 1983, 3M scientists concluded that considerations about its chemical compounds “give rise to legit questions in regards to the persistence, accumulation potential, and ecotoxicity of fluorochemicals within the setting.”
  • Purdy wrote in his resignation letter that within the Nineteen Nineties, 3M advised researchers to not write down their ideas or have electronic mail discussions due to how their “speculations” is likely to be seen in authorized discovery.
  • 3M advised workers to mark paperwork as “attorney-client privileged” no matter whether or not attorneys have been concerned, the state alleged, and minutes of conferences have been edited to omit references to well being hazards.
  • In 1997, 3M gave DuPont a “materials security information sheet” — which lays out potential hazards — for a chemical. It learn, “Warning: accommodates a chemical which might trigger most cancers,” citing 1983 and 1993 research by 3M and DuPont. However 3M eliminated the label that very same yr and continued to promote the merchandise for many years with out warning.

Thompson, the 3M spokesman, stated the paperwork launched by Swanson painting an “incomplete and deceptive story that distorts the complete file relating to 3M’s PFAS stewardship and who we’re as an organization.” 

He stated 3M disclosed many research to the EPA over the course of many years, together with on the chemical compounds’ toxicity and “the supplies produced and mentioned with EPA addressed related info and points.” 

‘The wildest hellcat’

3M’s man-made, poisonous chemical compounds could be traced again to World Conflict II, and the U.S. race to develop atomic weapons within the top-secret Manhattan Mission.

Scientists used fluorine fuel to separate uranium, and found that when fluorine weds with carbon, the bonds are nearly unimaginable to interrupt.

After the struggle, a few of the Manhattan Mission scientists have been employed by the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Firm (3M), which purchased the patent to develop perfluorochemicals, in keeping with a 3M book celebrating the corporate’s historical past of chemical engineering, referred to as “A Chemical Historical past of 3M.” 

Determining the way to deal with fluorine was a significant hurdle for the scientists.

“In its pure, uncontrolled state — happily by no means present in nature — it is likely one of the most energetic, most harmful parts identified to man,” the e-book says. “The greenish-yellow fuel will burn metal, water and even asbestos, which earned it a nickname — the wildest hellcat. Surprisingly, its wildness contributes to fluorine’s distinctive stability when it’s mixed with sure compounds.”

When mixed with carbon, the ensuing fluorochemical can repel water and oil and stand up to fireplace, which had apparent industrial potential.

3M started manufacturing chemical compounds in Minnesota within the Fifties, and for the subsequent 50 years they have been used to make stain repellents, Teflon and different waterproof and fireproof merchandise.

This 1961 3M Scotchgard advert that ran in LIFE journal was going to be an exhibit within the state’s lawsuit in opposition to 3M. Courtesy state of Minnesota

By the Nineteen Nineties, the chemical compounds were in many consumer products, reminiscent of window cleaners, flooring waxes and polishes, material and leather-based protecting coatings and carpet and fabric remedies.

The merchandise have been an enormous success, and the corporate was making nearly a half a billion {dollars} per yr off them by 2000, when it started — on the EPA’s urging — to part out manufacturing of the chemical used to make Scotchgard. Manufacturing of different chemical compounds continued. 

However the chemical compounds wouldn’t go away simply: They don’t break down within the setting, they usually accumulate within the human physique.

3M worker: We pled ignorance

In 1975, a Florida professor referred to as 3M after he and two colleagues found a fluorine chemical in human blood samples from Texas and New York.

The scientists suspected the supply is likely to be 3M chemical compounds utilized in home goods reminiscent of Teflon cookware and Scotchgard.

Donald Taves, a researcher on the College of Rochester, first reported within the scientific journal Nature in 1968 that the final inhabitants had been uncovered to the compounds. Then Taves found his personal blood contained it, in keeping with a 3M document marked “confidential,” obtained within the Minnesota legal professional normal’s lawsuit.

Taves was working with Warren Man and Wallace Brey on the College of Florida on a analysis paper. 

3M chemist G.H. Crawford took the telephone name from Taves, and admitted nothing. He wrote in a confidential interoffice memo: “We (pleaded) ignorance however suggested him that Scotchgard was a polymeric materials not a F.C. acid.”

(The truth is, by this level, the corporate knew its chemical compounds accrued within the human physique and have been poisonous, Swanson told a congressional committee. Furthermore, Swanson added, 3M refused to establish the chemical compounds in its merchandise, which for a technology thwarted the scientific neighborhood’s understanding of their well being impacts.) 

3M nonetheless manufactures perfluorochemicals in Cottage Grove, in addition to Cordova, In poor health., Decatur, Ala., Zwijndrecht, Belgium, and Gendorf, Germany. Picture by Chad Davis

Crawford, the 3M scientist, urged Man get blood samples from “uncivilized areas” reminiscent of New Guinea “the place they don’t use an excessive amount of Teflon cookware or Scotchgard.”

He advised his colleagues that the chemical 3M offered to DuPont to make Teflon cookware was the “least unlikely” clarification, however he didn’t inform Man that. Crawford wrote that he “adopted a place of scientific curiosity and need to help in any approach doable” and advised Man that 3M’s folks would possibly be capable to “make clear” his examine findings. 

One other internal document reveals Man, the college researcher, additionally talked to a 3M worker recognized as J.D. LaZerte about his quest to trace down the supply of chemical compounds in human blood.

LaZerte wrote in an inside doc that he advised Man to not speculate.

Taves, Man and Brey later discovered plasma from blood banks in 5 cities urged “widespread contamination of human tissues with hint quantities of natural fluorocompounds derived from industrial merchandise” reminiscent of flooring waxes, wax paper, leather-based and material conditioning brokers.

After getting the telephone calls from researchers, 3M started analyzing its fluorine compounds. Inside weeks, they found a compound that was a likely match

By late 1975, 3M despatched workers to see Man and Taves on the College of Rochester, the place they agreed to attempt to isolate and establish fluorochemicals in blood.

In 1976, the corporate started sampling workers’ blood. 

Assessments showed employees at 3M’s Cottage Grove plant referred to as Chemolite had as much as 1,000 instances the traditional quantity of fluorochemicals of their blood.

In plant after plant, elevated ranges have been discovered, from Decatur, Alabama, to Antwerp, Belgium.

Gergel, the federal decide in South Carolina, wrote in his latest ruling that though 3M helped Man and Taves establish the compound present in blood, the corporate advised nobody else exterior 3M for almost a quarter century, regardless of the corporate’s authorized obligation to alert the EPA about potential hurt to human well being and the setting.

The decide cited a possible wrongdoer: 3M attorneys, who urged 3M’s lab to not launch the true identification of the compound (PFOS), in keeping with an internal 3M document.

Gergel stated it could be affordable to deduce that the corporate knowingly withheld info that PFOS was within the blood of the final inhabitants and sought to discredit impartial scientific work that may have disclosed this.

“3M did greater than merely keep silent regardless of the corporate’s information that the thriller compound was PFOS,” Gergel wrote. 

The corporate went even additional in its effort to obfuscate, the decide charged. In 1981, an creator of an 1976 inside 3M report that confirmed that the unidentified chemical was actually PFOS revealed an article in the identical scientific journal as Man and Taves stating that the thriller compound was not man-made however was a naturally occurring substance. 

DuPont asks 3M for ‘defensive info’

Certainly one of 3M’s greatest clients was DuPont, for which it produced chemical compounds to make Teflon merchandise.

However by late 1975, DuPont was involved in regards to the doable poisonous results of Teflon and requested 3M for “defensive info” after a rat examine discovered “sub-acute toxicity,” in keeping with a 3M document

After a 1979 assembly between 3M and DuPont, a 3M committee determined its information on the chemical compounds in employees’ blood samples wasn’t essential sufficient to inform the EPA. Minutes from the assembly stated DuPont requested if 3M had carried out any “continual research” on fluorochemicals or deliberate any sooner or later. The reply was no, they wouldn’t do such research except pressured to by regulators.

3M advised DuPont that as a result of they’d seen no hostile human well being results and no widespread potential for the chemical compounds to build up, they didn’t have to notify the EPA, in keeping with a report by Philippe Grandjean, a Dutch scientist who supplied professional testimony for the state of Minnesota in its case in opposition to 3M.

“3M both closed its eyes to the proof, or selected purposefully to not discover it, or being beneficiant to 3M, it appears doable that 3M could have mistakenly relied on the absence of proof, regardless of the previous dictum that ‘the absence of proof is just not proof of absence,’ which later grew to become well-known in U.S. politics,” Grandjean wrote.

This 1961 Scotchgard advert in LIFE journal was going to be an exhibit within the state’s lawsuit in opposition to 3M. Courtesy state of Minnesota

Workers notified of chemical compounds in blood

In 1978, 3M started notifying chemical employees that hint quantities of chemical compounds have been discovered within the blood of workers on the Cottage Grove, Decatur and Cordova crops.

“There didn’t seem like any vital grouping of abnormalities,” in keeping with confidential meeting minutes of 3M’s Fluorochemicals Technical Assessment Committee.

The committee mentioned the potential carcinogenicity of the chemical compounds, and whether or not to inform employees and “the suitable authorities company,” given research exhibiting a PFAS compound was poisonous in animals and a 1979 report on toxicity studies on monkeys and rats discovered PFOS was “definitely extra poisonous than anticipated.”  

However as a result of there was “no proof of unwell results,” the committee determined it didn’t represent a considerable danger based mostly on EPA tips pertaining to the Poisonous Substances Management Act, which regulates chemical compounds.

The committee determined to maintain publicity to all fluorochemicals to a minimal in all manufacturing facility operations, and look into monitoring worker urine.

Nevertheless it was changing into more and more clear that a number of of the chemical compounds have been poisonous. Quickly after, a 3M study of two chemical compounds discovered they have been “prone to persist within the setting for prolonged durations.”

“Due to the obvious persistence of those fluorochemicals within the physique, a very powerful query stays doable long-term results,” the report stated.

Distinguished toxicologist warns ‘we might have a significant issue’

Within the spring of 1979, 3M officers met on the Hilton Lodge in San Francisco to speak about their fluorochemical research and the long run.

Additionally they heard from toxicologist Harold Hodge, a professor from the College of California, which dubbed him “the dean of American toxicology.”

An epidemiology examine was being carried out on 3,500 folks, however thus far there have been no “uncommon” causes of demise.

Hodge beneficial the corporate examine the carcinogenicity of its chemical compounds.

Per week later, Hodge requested that 3M add to the meeting minutes that it was of “utmost significance” that the corporate examine whether or not a sure chemical was current in people, at what stage, and the diploma of its persistence.

“If the degrees are excessive and widespread and the half-life is lengthy, we might have a significant issue,” Hodge warned.

Months later, 3M scientist M.T. Case expressed similar concerns — as “accountable 3M scientists” — in regards to the lack of continual toxicity information a couple of yr after the rat research have been carried out.

“I imagine it’s paramount to start now an evaluation of the potential (if any) of long run (carcinogenic) results for these compounds that are identified to persist for a very long time within the physique and thereby give long run continual publicity,” Case wrote in a memo.

‘3M will seemingly be embarrassed’

Different 3M workers have been attempting to influence the corporate to return clear.

After a California firm purchased firefighting foam from 3M, it later discovered that 3M chemist Eric Reiner advised the consumer that the froth wasn’t biodegradable, opposite to 3M’s promoting claims. 

Livid, the consumer wrote to 3M in 1988, demanding a proof.

Reiner implored firm officers to do assessments on the biodegradability of the chemical compounds, calling out these accountable in an inside memo.

“I don’t suppose it’s in 3M’s long-term curiosity to perpetuate the parable that these fluorochemical surfactants are biodegradable,” he wrote. “It’s possible that this false impression will ultimately be found, and when that occurs, 3M will seemingly be embarrassed, and we and our clients could also be fined and compelled to instantly withdraw merchandise from the market.”

Three years later, firm officers have been nonetheless debating whether or not to review the environmental results of fluorochemicals. A draft proposal for a examine of long-term results famous the issue with earlier research was there’s not often a single fluorochemical within the product, making generalizations tough.

“Maybe a very powerful conclusion from earlier research is the steadiness of fluorochemicals though stability is likely one of the most fascinating properties fluorochemicals possess,” it stated. “For a lot of purposes, from an environmental perspective, stability connotes persistence which could be the reason for concern particularly when coupled with different properties… taken collectively, stability, the tendency to bioaccumulate, and organic exercise are a probably troublesome mixture.”

3M vice chairman delays reporting to EPA

By the mid-Nineteen Nineties, that “probably troublesome mixture” was changing into a menace to 3M.

The corporate’s Poisonous Substances Management Act committee beneficial in 1998 that 3M notify the EPA and FDA that the chemical compounds have been broadly present in human blood.

A “communications plan” included steps for an “orderly exit” from the market.

However one month later, 3M Group Vice President Charles Reich told the committee he determined as a substitute to do a assessment with a “wider spectrum” of inside and exterior specialists. 

“I’ve concluded that 3M is just not presently in possession of data that may be new to EPA and that moderately helps a conclusion that means a considerable danger of damage to human well being or the setting,” he wrote.

This, regardless of many years of analysis suggesting in any other case.

3M lastly notified the EPA in Might 1998 {that a} fluorochemical (PFOS) was discovered within the normal inhabitants’s blood at “very low” ranges. The corporate stated its research of 3M employees discovered “no hostile results,” saying, “3M doesn’t imagine that any affordable foundation exists to conclude that PFOS presents a considerable danger of damage to well being or the setting.”

Decide Gergel lately famous that regardless of these assurances, 3M’s supervisor of company toxicology, John Butenhoff, urged 3M in 1998 to interchange “PFOS-based chemistry as these compounds [are] VERY persistent and thus insidiously poisonous.” 

Butenhoff calculated a “secure” stage of PFOS in human blood at somewhat greater than 1 half per billion. However 3M’s personal research from roughly the identical interval discovered that PFOS concentrations within the blood of most of the people have been within the vary of 30 elements per billion. 

Gergel stated Butenhoff’s findings have been by no means reported to the EPA and have been revealed solely throughout discovery within the firefighting foam litigation. 

See Also

‘This chemical is extra secure than many rocks’

By 1998, 3M toxicologist Richard Purdy, the one finding out chemical compounds in eagles and albatrosses, was rising more and more involved about these research of untamed birds. 

On Dec. 3, 1998, Purdy stated in an email there was a major danger of ecological hurt, which needs to be reported to the EPA, warning, “The degrees we’re seeing in eagles and different biota is prone to climb every year.”

He wasn’t alone.

In March 1999, a 3M employee emailed a number of colleagues and 3M’s normal counsel, Thomas J. DiPasquale, questioning why three months had handed since a committee had reviewed Purdy’s speculation on meals chain contamination.

DiPasquale wasn’t in a rush, although.

“I’m unsure there’s a have to assist or refute the speculation inside any specific time-frame,” he replied.

Purdy, who was on the e-mail chain, retorted: “Plan! That’s the similar stalling method you’ve got been utilizing for the final yr.”

“There’s a excessive likelihood that PFOS is killing marine mammals and also you need one other plan once we might have had information to assist the chance evaluation way back,” Purdy wrote. “You got a plan in 1983. Once more within the early 90s. And also you licensed no testing.”

This undated {photograph} exhibiting open burning of drums in a landfill was an exhibit within the state lawsuit in opposition to 3M. Courtesy state of Minnesota.

In the meantime, his preliminary analysis indicated grownup eagles had 50 instances as a lot PFOS of their plasma because the eaglets.

“For 20 years the division has been stalling the gathering of knowledge wanted for evaluating the environmental impression of fluorochemicals,” Purdy wrote. “PFOS is essentially the most onerous pollutant since PCB and also you need to keep away from amassing information that signifies that it’s most likely worse. I’m outraged.”

Two days later, Purdy resigned, and forwarded his resignation letter to the EPA.

“I’ve frequently met roadblocks, delays, and indecision. For weeks on finish I’ve obtained assurances that my samples can be analyzed quickly — by no means to see outcomes. There are all the time excuses and little is completed,” he wrote.

3M continued to make the chemical compounds after Purdy warned they have been spreading by means of the meals chain and harming sea mammals.

“This chemical is extra secure than many rocks,” he wrote. “And the chemical compounds the corporate is contemplating for substitute are simply as secure and biologically out there. The danger evaluation I carried out was easy, and never worst case.”

3M advised the folks engaged on the fluorochemical mission to not write down their ideas or have electronic mail discussions due to how their hypothesis may very well be seen in potential litigation, Purdy alleged.

“For me it’s unethical to be involved with markets, authorized defensibility and picture over environmental security,” he wrote.

Purdy didn’t reply to a request for remark, however his view of 3M’s habits appeared to melt over time. In an interview with MPR from his Wisconsin farm in 2005, he spoke “with pleasure” in regards to the firm’s funding in science and chemical compounds. 

“3M is like anyone who ran the cease signal, obtained by means of the cease signal, ‘Oh my God,’ and stopped,” he was quoted saying.

3M begins working to ‘command the science’

With the EPA on discover, the company pressured 3M to cease manufacturing the compound utilized in Scotchgard (PFOS) within the U.S. in 2000. Six years later, the EPA fined the corporate for not turning over tons of of reviews on the chemical compounds’ toxicity.

The EPA stated 3M’s personal information indicated its chemical compounds didn’t break down and will pose a long-term menace to human well being and the setting.

Nonetheless, the Minnesota Air pollution Management Company didn’t start investigating the chemical compounds for 2 years, in keeping with MPR, which reported that every one the company had on file for 3M’s Cottage Grove plant in 2001 was a press clipping headlined “Scotchgard sticks within the setting.”

As soon as 3M had lastly alerted regulators, the corporate labored on a communications plan

The primary aim: “Shield and improve 3M’s fame.”

Certainly, its major concern appeared to be controlling the narrative across the science. The plan included a listing of “high-priority” candidates to be spokespersons for the corporate, together with Michigan State College professor John Giesy, a 3M advisor on environmental research. 3M worker Dale Bacon stated he would gauge Giesy’s curiosity.

3M wished to get scientific papers on their chemical compounds revealed earlier than others, in keeping with internal emails.

A 2003 internal memo confirmed 3M seeking to fund exterior analysis utilizing 3M “grant” cash, significantly with individuals who can be influential in danger evaluation and “different science coverage issues.”

Amongst their motion objects: Develop a listing of 3M and “industry-preferred” nominees for science advisory panels.

Giesy was the perfect candidate. He was editor of greater than half the educational journals about PFAS and thought of an impartial professional. 

3M went on to pay Giesy to assessment and share research with 3M earlier than they have been revealed, Minnesota alleged in its lawsuit in opposition to 3M.

It started when Giesy emailed 3M officers in August 2000 informing the corporate he had a draft manuscript prepared and wished to submit it to Science earlier than others beat him to it.

“I feel you will need to publish our work earlier than theirs,” Giesy wrote. “In any other case, it seems like we (ie 3M) was pressured into the investigations they’ve carried out and subsequent launch of the info.”

A 3M official warned his colleagues that publishing the paper “might set off a series response of hypothesis that might reopen the difficulty with the media and transfer it again to a well being story; one thing up-to-now we now have averted.”

As an alternative, the 3M official wrote that the corporate ought to preserve “our” scientific publications “in the precise order as we had already agreed,” noting he presumed Giesy’s work was carried out underneath contract with 3M and was solely publishable “if and once we agree.”

The official added, nevertheless: “We can also’t dilly dally round both. It can take quite a lot of sensitivity and folks abilities to deliver Dr. Giesy round to our considering on this and to make certain he doesn’t misread our place as attempting to cover the winnie. We simply need the winnie within the bun, full with mustard and ketchup.”

3M went on to develop a marketing campaign to “command the science” and create “defensive boundaries to litigation,” the state alleged in its lawsuit, by selectively funding exterior analysis and modifying scientific papers earlier than they have been revealed.

“The corporate, sadly, engaged in a marketing campaign to cover its personal research and to, actually, form the science by means of the funding of those different research,” Swanson advised Congress.

Giesy defined the way it labored in a March 2008 email to 3M Laboratory Supervisor William Reagen: He edited loads of PFAS papers for scientific journals, however in his 3M billings, he listed the work as “literature searches” on timesheets “in order that there was no paper path to 3M.”

“Some journals will permit this, however others, for battle of curiosity points, won’t permit an {industry} to assessment a paper about one in all their merchandise,” he wrote. “That’s the place I got here in for Dale (Bacon, the 3M worker).”

Giesy said in a later electronic mail “Dale (Bacon) had me doing issues to maintain a finger on the heart beat of issues occurring all over the world, particularly to attempt to preserve dangerous papers out of the literature.”

The state lawsuit alleged 3M paid Giesy no less than $2 million, and that he had a web price of about $20 million regardless of working at public universities most of his profession.

3M records present he was first paid by the corporate in 1993. Starting in 1998, Entrix, Inc. — Giesy’s environmental consulting firm — was paid almost $1.7 million for his work by means of 2009, at a price of $275 an hour, in keeping with one billing.

By 2008, the association gave the impression to be ending. In an electronic mail, Giesy supplied some closing phrases: 

“My private advise (sic) is that you simply need to preserve ‘dangerous’ papers out of the literature, in any other case in litigation conditions they could be a massive impediment to refute,” he wrote. “Judges appear to be of the opinion that if info is within the peer-reviewed, open literature, it’s correct.”

Giesy — who now works on the College of Saskatchewan — didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark, however prior to now he has denied any wrongdoing. He stated he was solely attempting to maintain errors out of the literature — and accused Swanson of attempting to smear his fame as a result of he refused to be an professional for the state.

“The paperwork converse for themselves,” Swanson stated in an interview.

Objective: ‘Promote PFCs as lengthy and as broadly as we are able to’

For greater than 1 / 4 century, 3M has identified its fluorochemicals might have devastating penalties for the corporate’s long-term monetary well being. 

A 1995 inside strategic planning document stated “impediment No. 1” to 3M’s main imaginative and prescient in its chemical enterprise was “the persistence of fluorochemicals,” and “environmental, well being, security and regulatory points and traits that threaten to restrict our enterprise.”

Among the many “key actions” listed: “Proceed to keep up regulatory approval to promote PFCs as lengthy and as broadly as we are able to.”

It’s simple to grasp why they have been so dedicated to the chemical compounds, regardless of the large dangers: $500 million per yr in income, yr after yr after yr. 

“Sadly, it succeeded for greater than 50 years,” Swanson advised Congress. “And now states and native governments across the nation are grappling with the results.”

To this present day, 3M nonetheless manufactures perfluorochemicals in Cottage Grove, in addition to Cordova, In poor health., Decatur, Ala., Zwijndrecht, Belgium, and Gendorf, Germany.

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