PFAS, Cancer, 3M, and a Coverup that’s Decades Old

Longreads

Studies have shown that 3M-made “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS, pronounced ‘PEE-fas’)” found in Teflon, Scotchgard, and fire-fighting foam have been linked to a weakened immune response and cancer. As Tiffany Kary and Christopher Cannon report at Bloomberg Businessweek, the chemicals contaminate the ground water around the 3M plant in Cotton Grove, Minnesota creating an “underground plume” of pollution that’s 100 square miles in size. The biggest problem? 3M knew of the dangers and has been covering it up for decades.

Still, in Cottage Grove, where 3M first made the chemicals in bulk, there’s a sense of betrayal—stoked by a half-century of deceptions that came to light earlier this year with the airing of some of its internal documents. Here, as some parents of children with cancer say they’ve switched to bottled water and thrown away their Scotchgard and Teflon pans, it has become clear that a…

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