3M Co. is set to hand over a half-million documents in a lawsuit alleging groundwater contamination, but a judge has ruled they will be sealed to protect trade secrets.
The lawsuit deals with perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, commonly called PFOS and PFOA. The manmade chemicals don’t break down in the environment and have been found around the globe in animal and human blood. There’s disagreement on whether the chemicals cause cancer and other health problems. Scientists commissioned by the federal government are deciding whether to label PFOA as a carcinogen.
3M’s original Scotchgard product included PFOS, but Scotchgard has since been reformulated with a different chemical.
Washington County District Court Judge Mary Hannon also ruled on Monday that 3M will have to produce documents on other perfluorochemicals besides the two that have been the focus of the lawsuit so far. 3M had argued that including other perfluorochemicals would add to their burden and cost.
3M spokesman Bill Nelson said 3M stands behind its research that shows no adverse effects on human health from exposure to PFOS and PFOA.
Cottage Grove residents Felicia Palmer and Sesario Briseno sued 3M in 2004. PFOA and PFOS have been found in the Oakdale city well and private wells in the area.
A hearing on whether to grant class-action status to the lawsuit is planned for November.