Attorney General Todd Rokita today announced a lawsuit against 22 companies that, contrary to law, continued manufacturing substances known as “forever chemicals” despite these same companies possessing overwhelming evidence the substances posed serious health risks. 

“We’re taking action today to hold these companies accountable for their clear violation of laws designed to protect human health,” Attorney General Todd Rokita said. “For decades, they sought to hide research showing that their products were extremely dangerous to people everywhere, including Hoosiers. And they did it so they could make million-dollar profits at the cost of our health and well-being.” 

The companies manufactured a category of water-resistant substances known as PFAS — an acronym for “per- and polyfluoralkyl substances.” PFAS are used in the making of non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and clothing, and firefighting foam. 

These chemicals do not degrade easily in the environment — hence their classification as “forever chemicals.” Once PFAS are used, these toxic and hazardous substances remain in the environment and contaminate air, drinking water, groundwater and soil. They are difficult and costly to remove. 

The level of PFAS in animals and humans can also increase as they are consumed up the food chain — a process known as biomagnification. 

Testimony from former employees and other evidence have shown that over several decades companies actively sought to hide internal research highlighting their products’ harm to consumers. 

In recent years, public-health scientists have linked PFAS exposure to cancer, infertility, and childhood developmental issues. National blood sampling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found PFAS in the blood of nearly every person tested since 1999. 

“Addressing the PFAS emergency that Defendants have caused requires substantial effort and expense to investigate, treat, and remediate the contamination,” Indiana’s lawsuit states. “The Defendants who created and profited from the creation of this problem must pay to address the PFAS contamination throughout the State.” 

The lawsuit is being filed in Shelby County, where a 2022 site Investigation at the Shelbyville Army Aviation Support Facility found that PFAS contamination was likely caused by defendants’ aqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”) — a product used for firefighting training and emergency response. 

Elsewhere in the state, Grissom Air Reserve Base and Fort Benjamin Harrison are likewise contaminated as a result of AFFF, with elevated levels of PFAS detected in soil, sediment, surface water, and/or groundwater near fire training areas, fire stations and hangars. 

Sampling conducted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management between March 2021 and December 2023 revealed levels of PFAS above EPA Health Advisory Levels in public drinking water in the following counties: Bartholomew, Carroll, Cass, Clark, Crawford, Decatur, Elkhart, Floyd, Gibson, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lake, Laporte, Madison, Marion, Perry, Posey, Scott, St. Joseph, Sullivan, Vigo and Warrick. 

The companies have violated state and federal environmental regulations, the lawsuit contends, in addition to other laws such as the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act and the Indiana Product Liability Act. 

Watch Attorney General Rokita’s live press event announcing the lawsuit here.