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A Lawsuit Alleges That Kimberly-clark, the Manufacturer of Kleenex, is Responsible for Contaminating a Town With PFAS Chemicals

Credits: CBC

Kimberly-Clark is facing a proposed class action lawsuit filed by Connecticut residents residing near a Kleenex manufacturing facility, accusing the consumer goods company of contaminating their properties and drinking water with toxic “forever chemicals.”

The lawsuit, filed in a Connecticut federal court, alleges that Kimberly-Clark used per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to manufacture tissues at its New Milford plant.

PFAS, known as “forever chemicals,” are a group of chemicals linked to cancer and hormonal dysfunction, known for their resistance to breaking down easily in nature or the human body.

Kleenex Products (Credits: The Globe and Mail)

The residents claim that PFAS emitted from the facility’s smokestacks attach to air particles or rain, landing on their properties and seeping into the groundwater through the soil.

This alleged contamination has reportedly led to a decline in property values and increased health risks for the residents who consume polluted water.

Kimberly-Clark denies the allegations, asserting that it does not use PFAS in its U.S. consumer products and plans to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.

PFAS are utilized in numerous consumer and commercial products, including water-resistant diaper linings, paper products, stain-resistant clothing, and cosmetics. Thousands of related chemicals fall under the PFAS group, and they have been associated with serious health issues.

In recent years, manufacturers and companies using PFAS have faced numerous lawsuits, with some reaching significant settlements.

Last year, companies such as 3M, DuPont de Nemours, Chemours, and Corteva agreed to pay over $11 billion combined to resolve their liability for PFAS contamination in public water systems.

Residents in the proposed class action accuse Kimberly-Clark of negligence, asserting that the company had a duty to exercise reasonable care in not exposing them to toxic chemicals.

The lawsuit claims that the company violated this duty by not providing adequate warnings about PFAS usage and failing to prevent hazardous PFAS releases.

The proposed class includes Connecticut residents near the facility and neighboring property owners, seeking damages for financial losses and punitive damages.

Additionally, the class requests an order for Kimberly-Clark to install water filters and create a fund to monitor the health of the affected residents.

The growing concerns about PFAS toxicity have prompted federal regulatory action. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first-ever enforceable drinking water limits for several PFAS substances last year.

The EPA is expected to finalize this rule, along with another designating two PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the U.S. Superfund law in the coming year.

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