Assessing Emerging Contaminant Risks in Real Estate and Other Purchase Transactions

This blog frequently addresses emerging contaminants, most prominently the PFAS compounds and 1,4-dioxane. As these chemicals become more notorious through testing, regulation, and public scrutiny, they’ll likely become more prolific factors in the purchase and sale of real estate. As our readers know, PFAS is almost ubiquitous: it is nearly everywhere (in varying concentrations). As we continue to report on other contaminants, like 1,4-dioxane, it appears the trend is to continue to elevate the focus on these chemicals. So, how should a prospective purchaser, and …

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Emerging Contaminants: Testing Finds 1,4-Dioxane Present in Dozens of Household Products

Testing conducted by the group Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which is purportedly pushing for a New York state ban on 1,4-Dioxane in household products, has found the chemical at various levels in “65 of 80” commonly used (and commonly disposed of) high-end and less expensive personal care and detergent products. In conjunction with an uptick in 1,4-Dioxane litigation, these new studies likely provide lawyers, litigants, and other concerned parties a hint at what’s to come.

As a refresher, 1,4-Dioxane is a synthetic industrial …

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1,4-Dioxane is Back in Court, Following a New and Familiar Template for Water Authority Claims

Late last week, a pair of lawsuits on water contamination were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of local water authorities. Back in the news is the emerging contaminant 1,4-dioxane, which made headlines in late 2017 in a related and similar groundbreaking lawsuit that sought to recover costs against major manufacturers for the design, construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of water treatment facilities and equipment required to remove the 1,4-dioxane from drinking water wells. The same …

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EPA Releases First-of-its-Kind Nationwide PFAS Action Plan

Earlier today, the EPA’s Acting Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, announced a nationwide PFAS Action Plan. An EPA official described the plan as the “most comprehensive action plan for a chemical of concern ever undertaken by the agency.” The plan describes actions that are under way and slated for future action. In particular, the plan discusses:

  • moving forward with evaluating the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS;
  • beginning the steps to designate the chemicals as “hazardous substances”  through an available federal statutory
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Federal Study Provides Further Evidence Of PFAS’ Omnipotence, Adding To Pre-Existing Concern

It’s no secret that more and more states are investigating PFAS chemicals to determine whether regulation is wise. The U.S. Government has been grappling with the same issues. Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), including PFAS, are of great interest to regulators, water treatment utilities, the general public and scientists. When considering, for example, 2016 data collected by federal scientists that estimates that up to 110 million people are served by water supplies with PFAS, investigation is important. As we are well aware though, the federal …

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Short Use, Yet Long Life: New Study Highlights Persisting PFAS Treatment In Common Consumer Products

It’s worth noting that certain everyday products that U.S. consumers encounter frequently may still be treated with PFAS. That’s the focus of a recent study.  The study, conducted by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future, screened various retailer’s food-contact materials (i.e., take-out containers, bakery or deli paper, single-use plates) for the presence of suspected PFAS treatment. Although a small sample size, the study found that 5/8 (or about 63 percent) of take-out containers that they had collected from different stores in many states …

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Another State Takes a Seat at the PFAS Table – Developments in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

As an emerging issue touching most corners of the country, our firm’s lawyers report on everything PFAS. Although New York and New Jersey — the latter being one of the leaders on PFAS action — are popular subjects, we come to you today with an update from their neighbor: the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A state without its own PFAS regulations, it has been taking meaningful steps in the last few months to investigate these substances.

On September 19, 2018, Governor Wolf signed an executive …

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ATSDR PFAS Update: No Final Report Yet, But Further Guidance on Minimal Risk Levels and Drinking Water Concentrations

As most of our readers know, our firm has written extensively on PFAS, and we recently gave a 30 minute, free webinar on the important findings of the ATSDR’s toxicological profile on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The webinar discussed the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s role in setting minimal risk levels (MRLs) for toxic substances, including comprehensive analyses of selected contaminants that are deemed most harmful to human health. Because the PFAS profile is perhaps the most thorough evaluation of the …

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Feed It Once And Now It Stays: Another National PFAS Class Action Seeking A Study Rather Than Money

It’s been written about exhaustively in PFAS circles: the C8 Science Panel and its “probable link” findings between PFOA and various diseases. This was a groundbreaking study that was part of a settlement agreement in watershed litigation that ultimately led to a whopping $671 million payout for over 3,000 individual plaintiffs. The defendant, DuPont, had not only agreed to the creation of an independent panel of experts to evaluate any link between exposure to PFOA and human disease, but it also agreed — by extension …

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Environmental Due Diligence: What’s The Latest On Federal Environmental Review?

Just a few days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee — in a tight split — voted to support a bill that seeks to target the slow pace of the permitting process for infrastructure and development projects that require review by federal agencies. The bill, named the “Permitting Litigation Efficiency Act,” is expected to impose limits on federal review of projects, i.e., an apparent two-year deadline for federal agencies to determine whether a project can go forward. Other points of the act …

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