3M says it will stop producing "forever chemicals" by 2025
3M global headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota, in 2020. Photo: Michael Siluk/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
3M announced on Tuesday it will stop manufacturing and using "forever chemicals" by the end of 2025 in part because of proposed regulations on them.
Why it matters: 3M was one of the original companies that developed and manufactured per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — known as PFAS — in the U.S.
- The extremely durable chemicals have since caused numerous contamination issues in U.S. drinking water systems and have been linked to adverse health effects.
- PFAS, a family of nearly 5,000 different chemicals, have recently come under increased scrutiny from regulators, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
What they're saying: 3M said the change was in part due to proposed restrictions on all PFAS by the European Union and the EPA's plans to further regulate PFAS levels in drinking water systems.
- The company also said customers and consumers are "increasingly interested in alternatives to PFAS."
- "The challenges of managing businesses and operations with products based on PFAS, have increasingly weighed on our business results in recent years," it told investors.
How it works: They have been used in several nonstick, water-repellent and fire-resistant industrial and consumer products for decades, including cookware, some food packaging and fire-fighting materials.
- Because they resist degradation, PFAS can persist in the environment for years while accumulating in people, livestock fish and wildlife.
- People can be exposed to PFAS in several different ways, including from drinking water, food, air and consumer products.
The big picture: The EPA last year announced a "roadmap" for regulating the chemicals and has since released a new health advisory for the chemicals in drinking water and designated two of the chemicals as hazardous.
- Other major companies, like several fast food chains, have also pledged to eliminate their use of the chemicals in food packaging.
Go deeper: Chemists discover new method to destroy "forever chemicals"
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