Fred Stone’s dairy farm in Arundel was the first in Maine to have his Arundel dairy farm shut down due to PFAS contamination and hasn’t been able to make a living since 2017.  Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Maine is suing more than a dozen manufacturers of the so called forever chemicals that have contaminated farms and wells in the state, alleging that the companies knew in the 1950s that the products were toxic but didn’t disclose that information to the public.

The state has filed two civil complaints against 3M and various entities that were once part of DuPont, claiming public and private nuisance, trespassing, strict product liability and negligence.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, who filed the complaints in Cumberland County Superior Court on Wednesday, said the state is hoping to collect damages that would cover the costs of investigating, cleaning up and monitoring the presence of per- and polyfluorinated substances, commonly known as PFAS, throughout Maine.

PFAS don’t degrade in the environment and are linked to a broad range of health issues, including low birthweight babies and kidney cancer. The chemicals had been used since the 1940s in consumer products and industry, including in nonstick pans, food packaging and firefighting foam.

Their use is now mostly phased out in the United States, but some still remain. Meanwhile, the compounds continue to accumulate and circulate in the environment.

While 3M and DuPont spent decades profiting from PFAS products while failing to disclose their dangers to the public, the complaint states, Maine has spent millions of dollars responding to the PFAS crisis. This includes investigating contamination of water sources, soil, people, livestock and crops, as well as installing costly filtration systems, sometimes at municipalities’ expense.


And the state continues to identify additional contamination sites, according to the complaint.

“Maine has already spent substantial amounts of money to address PFAS,” the complaint states, “and will need to spend substantial additional amounts of money to clean up PFAS contamination to protect public health and the environment.”

The AG’s office said the companies’ internal reports show that DuPont, which was based in Delaware, and 3M, which is based in St. Paul, Minnesota, knew of the environmental and public health consequences of the chemicals as far back as the 1950s.

Frey has been eyeing a PFAS lawsuit for years. In September 2021, he announced the case was going to require help from an outside legal firm. Lawmakers agreed to allow Frey to do so during the last legislative session. Wednesday’s complaint was filed with several attorneys from law firms in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware and New York.

Maine is the latest of more than a dozen states to sue manufacturing companies over PFAS contamination. In February, the Illinois attorney general announced a lawsuit against 14 companies – including Dow, Chemours, Corteva and E.I. DuPont de Nemours – for selling PFAS products despite knowing the risks.

The attorney general in California also targeted both 3M and DuPont-related companies in a lawsuit filed in November.



DuPont no longer exists as it did before 2015. Frey’s complaint alleges the company violated Maine and Delaware’s “Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act,” by dividing itself into several smaller companies to shield significant assets from potential lawsuits.

Those smaller companies, all named as defendants, include the Chemours Company. The state alleges DuPont moved all of its PFAS production and environmental liabilities to Chemours in 2015.

Dow Inc., Corteva and DuPont de Nemours – all formed around 2018 as independent and publicly traded companies — also are defendants.

A spokesperson for 3M wrote in an email that 3M has “acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS,” including firefighting foam, “and will vigorously defend its record of environmental stewardship.”

A spokesperson for DuPont de Nemours said the company has never manufactured any PFAS. “While we don’t comment on litigation matters, we believe these complaints are without merit, and we look forward to vigorously defending our record of safety, health and environmental stewardship.”


Attorneys for all of the other defendants, including a handful of fire-fighting foam companies named in the second complaint Frey filed, did not respond to voicemails and emails seeking a reaction to the allegations.


Much of Wednesday’s complaints focus on Maine’s claims that DuPont and 3M knew for decades that their products were dangerous, but never alerted the public.

3M manufactured PFOA and PFOS, another type of forever chemicals, from the 1940s until 2002, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requested they stop “due to their toxicity, propensity to contaminate the environment, and accumulation in human beings,” the complaint states.

But even after the EPA stepped in, both companies continued to downplay and encourage the use of PFAS, the AG’s office alleges.

Scientists at 3M alerted the company that they had concerns as early as the 1960s, the lawsuit states, and knew as early as 1961 that PFAS could pollute public water sources, that they were toxic, and that they could build up in the body and the environment.


The complaint cites specific examples of this. In the late 1970s, a 90-day animal study that 3M conducted revealed the chemicals “should be regarded as toxic.” In 1981, 3M learned its products were causing birth defects in rats and moved 25 female employees “of child-bearing age” off production lines in Alabama.

It wasn’t until 1999 that the company shared some concerns with the EPA.


At DuPont, meanwhile, the complaint references internal reports that the company was aware of PFAS concerns nearly a decade before 3M.

In 1954, employees at Dupont’s Teflon plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia, reported that PFAS might be toxic. The complaints were so concerning that DuPont delayed the marketing of Teflon for seven years. The company was aware by the early 1960s that the chemicals caused adverse liver reactions in dogs and rats, the complaint states.

Both companies’ knowledge of PFAS risks for birth defects and cancer only evolved over the next several decades, according to the complaint.

DuPont continued using and producing PFOA until 2013. 3M stopped manufacturing PFOA in 2002 but continued using PFBS, a different type of PFAS that the complaint states already has been flagged by the federal government.

As recently as 2018, a statement from the company downplayed the chemicals’ adverse health effects and reinforced them as safe, the complaint alleges.

“The defendant manufacturers have willfully introduced toxic chemicals into Maine’s environment in pursuit of profit for shareholders,” Frey said in a written statement announcing the lawsuits Wednesday. “Maine citizens and the state are left to manage the harm these chemicals cause in our natural resources, our animals, our food, and our bodies, and the State is working overtime to manage the fallout.”

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