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Attorney General Todd Rokita announced a lawsuit against 22 companies that continued manufacturing substances known as “forever chemicals” despite being against the law and possessing overwhelming evidence the substances posed serious health risks. 

The companies manufactured a category of water-resistant substances known as PFAS; an acronym for “per-and polyfluoralkyl substances.” PFAS are used in the making of non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and clothing, and firefighting foam. 

These chemicals do not degrade easily in the environment, classifying them as “forever chemicals.” Once PFAS are used, these toxic and hazardous substances remain in the environment and contaminate air, drinking water, groundwater, and soil. They are also difficult and costly to remove. 

The level of PFAS in animals and humans can also increase as they are consumed up the food chain in a process known as biomagnification. 

Testimony from former employees and other evidence have shown that over several decades companies actively sought to hide internal research highlighting their products’ harm to consumers. 

In recent years, public health scientists have linked PFAS exposure to cancer, infertility, and childhood developmental issues. National blood sampling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found PFAS in the blood of nearly every person tested since 1999. 

The lawsuit is being filed in Shelby County, where a 2022 site Investigation at the Shelbyville Army Aviation Support Facility found that PFAS contamination was likely caused by the defendants’ aqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”), a product used for firefighting training and emergency response. 

Elsewhere in the state, Grissom Air Reserve Base and Fort Benjamin Harrison are likewise contaminated as a result of AFFF, with elevated levels of PFAS detected in soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater near fire training areas, fire stations, and hangars. 

Sampling conducted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management between March 2021 and December 2023 revealed levels of PFAS above EPA Health Advisory Levels in public drinking water in the following counties: Bartholomew, Carroll, Cass, Clark, Crawford, Decatur, Elkhart, Floyd, Gibson, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lake, Laporte, Madison, Marion, Perry, Posey, Scott, St. Joseph, Sullivan, Vigo and Warrick. 

The lawsuit states that the companies have violated state and federal environmental regulations in addition to other laws such as the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act and the Indiana Product Liability Act. 

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