Emerging Contaminants and PFAS

  • Holland & Knight's interdisciplinary Emerging Contaminants and PFAS Team is at the cutting edge of one of the most significant challenges facing businesses today: the increasing scrutiny and concern over the use of man-made chemicals in consumer products and manufacturing processes.
  • These emerging contaminants include an especially prevalent class of "forever chemicals" known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), the discovery of which has put historical practices across industries at risk of new litigation and enforcement action.
  • Entrenched in the science behind emerging contaminants – as well as their ever-developing legal, political and business implications – our attorneys empower clients with the knowledge, tools and confidence to address these unique challenges.
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Laws regarding emerging contaminants are, by their nature, constantly developing and shifting. Many contaminants are not yet regulated or even properly understood.

Government regulators, legislators, plaintiffs' firms, the media and the general public have become increasingly concerned about PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), known as "forever chemicals" because of their highly durable properties. The presence of PFAS in drinking water, the food chain and the environment has led to thousands of lawsuits nationwide, federal and state legislative initiatives, and ongoing health and toxicology studies by university and government laboratories.

This growing emphasis and concern creates a complex landscape fraught with pitfalls for businesses to navigate. Lawyers on Holland & Knight's Emerging Contaminants and PFAS Team are at the forefront of these developments, having served as former prosecutors, government attorneys and general counsel to Fortune 500 companies. We have represented clients across a spectrum of industries, including manufacturers and retailers, municipalities and utilities, and oil and energy corporations.

Our attorneys consider themselves lifelong students of science, maintaining strong ties to experts in toxicology, chemistry, remediation, healthcare and environmental science, and other areas. This relationship enables us to guide clients through the policy, regulation, litigation and risk management challenges that emerging contaminants present for multiple industries. We work closely with your team to develop bespoke, proactive strategies that protect your company's reputation and bottom line.

Our Emerging Contaminants and PFAS Team has a proven track record of successfully representing clients in matters involving a wide range of emerging contaminants, including:

  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • asbestos
  • groundwater pollution
  • microplastics
  • PFAS
  • pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)

Litigation and Enforcement

Holland & Knight's foremost commitment is to safeguard your company's interests when facing allegations relating to PFAS and other emerging contaminants. Our seasoned legal team is experienced in crafting robust litigation defense strategies tailored to the unique circumstances of your case.

When litigation arises, our attorneys diligently investigate the claims against your company and collaborate closely with industry experts, leveraging their knowledge to build a solid defense. To minimize the potential financial impact of legal proceedings, we strive for efficient resolutions such as exploring negotiation and alternative dispute resolution methods when appropriate.

We have resolved lawsuits involving:

  • hazardous waste remediation
  • civil and administrative enforcement defense under federal and state environmental regulatory programs
  • defense of citizen suits under the Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
  • toxic tort matters
  • class action litigation
  • greenwashing

Regulatory Compliance

Remaining compliant with rapidly evolving environmental regulations is paramount for businesses, as noncompliance can lead to costly legal consequences and reputational damage.

Holland & Knight's attorneys are well versed in the intricate web of federal, state and local regulations – as well as anticipated new rules – pertaining to emerging contaminants, including PFAS. We keep a vigilant eye on legislative changes and agency guidance, helping to ensure that our clients are up to date and compliant by assessing their operations and implementing necessary adjustments.

Our proactive compliance strategies go the extra mile with comprehensive risk assessments that identify areas of concern and mitigation plans. Our forward-thinking approach assists clients in not only meeting current standards but also in anticipating future regulatory challenges.

Crisis Management

In the event of a contamination crisis, our team is prepared to act swiftly, providing comprehensive crisis management and communication strategies when time is of the essence.

We act promptly to assess the extent of contamination and identify potential liabilities, guiding companies through the legal intricacies of crisis response and helping make certain that all of their actions comply with relevant laws and regulations. Our vast experience in crisis resolution positions us to negotiate favorable outcomes and minimize reputational and financial harm.