Minnesota manufacturer 3M announced Tuesday that it would discontinue production and use of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, by the end of 2025.
These “forever chemicals” have been deemed hazardous by state and federal departments, especially for bottle-fed infants, and nursing or pregnant women, as studies have linked PFAS exposure to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.
PFAS were detected in Bemidji’s wells around five years ago, and the levels of these substances were high enough to warrant the construction of the water treatment plant, funded by state bonding dollars as well as a settlement from 3M.
The PFAS were linked to the use of a firefighting foam used at Bemidji Airport during training exercises several years ago, with the city’s wellfields on airport property.
“This is a moment that demands the kind of innovation 3M is known for,” said 3M chairman and chief executive officer Mike Roman.
“While PFAS can be safely made and used, we also see an opportunity to lead in a rapidly evolving external regulatory and business landscape to make the greatest impact for those we serve. This action is another example of how we are positioning 3M for continued sustainable growth by optimizing our portfolio, innovating for our customers, and delivering long-term value for our shareholders.”
PFAS manufacturing and products make up about 16 percent of 3M’s annual net sales.