EPA ditches ‘forever chemicals’ suit

By Ellie Borst | 05/14/2024 01:29 PM EDT

The federal government is opting to voluntarily dismiss a landmark lawsuit over PFAS in widely used fluorinated containers.

Illustration with plastic bottles and PFAS compounds.

Plastics company Inhance Technologies uses a fluorination process that unintentionally creates PFAS on up to 200 million plastic barrels each year. Claudine Hellmuth/POLITICO (illustration); National Academies Press (chemical compounds); Fertnig/iStock (pesticide bottles); Freepik (green bottle)

EPA dropped a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against a plastics company unintentionally making “forever chemicals,” seemingly accepting defeat after a federal appellate court blocked the agency’s attempt to pause production altogether.

The federal government filed a notice Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to voluntarily dismiss its complaint against Inhance Technologies, a Houston-based company in the business of fluorination, a process that coats the insides of plastic containers to make them more durable but also creates PFAS as a byproduct.

Inhance annually fluorinates up to 200 million containers, which hold a variety of household cleaners, pesticides, fuel or other industrial products. The fluorination process exposes consumers to PFAS, including known carcinogens.


If the judge accepts the dismissal, it would lay to rest EPA’s involvement in a 2022 lawsuit alleging that Inhance violated the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act.