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Chemical companies have agreed to pay $1.2 billion in damages after dumping toxic 'forever chemicals' into our water

They're called "forever chemicals" because they break down incredibly slowly in nature.

PFA pollution

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Chemical manufacturers Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva have agreed to put $1.185 billion in a settlement fund to address damages from the toxic "forever chemicals" that contaminated water sources across the U.S., Phys.org reported.

PFAS are a group of chemicals used in a wide range of products, including nonstick pans, water- and fire-resistant materials, cleaning supplies, and cosmetics. They're called "forever chemicals" because they break down incredibly slowly in nature, so they tend to build up in the environment and living beings.

Studies show PFAS are connected to severe health risks in humans, possibly including cancer. Unfortunately, almost everyone in the U.S. has been exposed — they've been found in the blood of 97% of Americans.

Despite the severe risks, manufacturing companies have come under fire for polluting water sources with these chemicals. PFAS have been found in the water in 43% of all ZIP codes throughout the U.S.

Now it seems that some of America's largest manufacturers may face some accountability for the damage. Not only have Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva agreed to set up a settlement fund, but manufacturer 3M has set aside $10 billion for claims related to PFAS, Phys.org reported.

There are still a few steps to go before any victim of this pollution will be paid, as the companies will have to get a judge to agree to their arrangement. However, if the plan goes forward, there will be funds available to help people who have experienced health problems from PFAS in their water.

In the meantime, the EPA has proposed new rules to prevent future contamination from PFAS — the first-ever set of guidelines to restrict these chemicals in the U.S.

When the new rules were proposed, EPA administrator Michael Regan said they could save thousands of lives and prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related health problems. 

"These toxic chemicals are so pervasive and so long-lasting in the environment that they've been found in food, soil and water even in the most remote corners of our planet," he said, according to Phys.org.

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