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US Kleenex Facility Linked to PFAS Contamination

Residents of New Milford, Connecticut, say the factory producing Kleenex products contaminated their properties and drinking water with 'forever chemicals,' according to a class-action lawsuit.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of more than 15,000 compounds commonly used across different industries. As they break down very slowly and can build up in people and the environment over time, they are dubbed as 'forever chemicals.'

The lawsuit alleges that Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the manufacturer of Kleenex, intentionally and recklessly disposed of PFAS and their constituents, contaminating real property and drinking water supplies.

The plaintiffs who are seeking over $5m in damages say they and the members of the class action suffered injuries to their bodies, including subclinical cellular injuries that have significantly increased their risk of developing cancers and other diseases linked to PFAS exposure.

They also experienced a loss of enjoyment of their real property because of the contamination of their soil and drinking water wells, according to a lawsuit.

Kimberly-Clark has operated at the manufacturing facility in New Milford since the late 1950s. The factory is making diapers and tissue products for popular household brands such as Kleenex, Scott, and Huggies.

Many products Kimberly-Clark manufactures and sells are types of products known to traditionally utilize or contain PFAS in their manufacturing processes.

The facility's manufacturing practices caused stack emissions containing PFAS to go airborne and deposit chemicals on the real property and in the drinking water wells, the plaintiffs claim.

After closing the Kimberly-Clark manufacturing facility in Fullerton, California, in 2020, officials discovered that it had contaminated local drinking water supplies.

PFAS are commonly found in cleaning products, water-resistant fabrics, nonstick cookware, and personal care products, among household items.

People can also be exposed to 'forever chemicals' by drinking contaminated water, eating foods that may contain the chemicals, such as fish, and breathing air containing PFAS.

Research is ongoing to understand long-term PFAS exposure's effects on human health. Thus far, forever chemicals have been linked to the following conditions:

  • Low birth weight
  • Accelerated puberty, bone variations, or behavioral changes
  • Decreased fertility
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia
  • Elevated risk of some cancers, including prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers
  • High cholesterol levels and/or risk of obesity
  • Suppressed ability of the body's immune system to fight infections
  • Lowered antibody response to some vaccines
  • Hormonal disruption

Emerging evidence suggests a wide range of harmful effects PFAS have on human health, underscoring the need for stricter regulations.

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