Kidde-Fenwal Inc, a subsidiary of Carrier Global Corp that specializes in fire control systems, filed for bankruptcy on May 14, 2023, due to the weight of lawsuits* alleging that PFAS** “forever chemicals” in its firefighting foam products have contaminated water sources around U.S. airports and military bases.
Kidde-Fenwal filed for Chapter 11 protection in Delaware bankruptcy court. The company is seeking a buyer for its business, saying its likely liability in the litigation “substantially exceeds” its capacity to pay.”**
Kidde-Fenwal is one of several defendants, along with 3M Company and DuPont de Nemours Inc. to face such lawsuits concerning PFAS chemicals contaminating the drinking water and food supply.
*Since 2016, Kidde-Fenwal has been named as a defendant in more than 4,400 lawsuits filed by local governments, companies and individuals, claiming that aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) products contaminated drinking water and soil with perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS or “forever chemicals.” Kidde-Fenwal sold AFFF foam products from 2007 to 2013. Toxic PFAS chemicals have been the subject of an increasing number of lawsuits linking them to cancer, other health risks and environmental damage. The litigation has cost Kidde-Fenwal $6 million in 2023 alone. Kidde-Fenwal has $318 million in assets, and had $200 million in sale revenue for 2022, according to its court filings.
**PFAS chemicals (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are toxic to humans, animals and the environment. They are comprised of approximately 12,000 compounds. They are ubiquitous in the U.S., appearing in thousands of consumer and industrial products and are typically used to make products resist water, stains and heat, including household products (like carpeting, curtains, furniture upholstery, waterproof and stain-resistant flooring, etc.), cooking supplies (including cooking utensils and bake ware), clothing, personal care products (like cosmetics, including waterproof mascara and feminine hygiene products) and even food (PFAS appears in processed food packaging for humans and pets) and public drinking water (tap water) that affects an estimated 2 million Americans. PFAS chemicals are usually found in products labeled “stain-proof” and “waterproof”. PFAS chemicals also appear in fire-fighting foam and other industrial products used at airports and military bases across the country, where the chemicals have leached into the groundwater. PFAS chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not readily break down in the environment or human body. PFAS chemicals have been linked in scientific and medical studies to a variety of serious health conditions including cancer (including testicular cancers), kidney disease, heart disease, thyroid problems, reproductive problems, endocrine problems (PFAS has been found to disrupt hormonal functions with some research suggesting that the PFAS chemicals are linked to accelerated ovarian aging, period irregularities and ovarian disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome) and liver problems. Some newer PFAS have been found to accumulate in organs, so in some cases, science simply cannot detect the toxic chemicals when testing for it in blood.