COLUMBUS, OH (FOX19) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for allegedly producing and selling toxic chemical compounds, known as PCBs, for decades, while knowing of the health risks they posed.
The lawsuit seeks compensation and damages for Ohio, including funding for a statewide plan to investigate and remove PCBs from the state's natural resources.
"Ohioans deserve to enjoy their natural resources without contamination from these toxic chemicals, and we believe Monsanto should be held responsible for the damage it caused," Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a news release. "Our goal in taking this action is to protect Ohio, its citizens, and its natural resources."
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are chemical compounds that Monsanto manufactured and sold from 1929 to 1977 for use in a variety of applications, such as paints, inks, caulks, sealants, lubricants, electrical equipment, and carbonless copy paper, including use by manufacturing operations in Ohio.
Currently, dozens of rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water in Ohio are contaminated with PCBs, DeWine says. Contamination also has been found in fish, soil, plants, and air.
In humans, PCBs are associated with cancer, skin and eye disorders, reduced birth weight, liver damage, and other adverse health effects, the attorney general's office wrote in a statement Monday. Humans can be exposed to PCBs by eating contaminated fish, breathing contaminated air, or swimming in contaminated water.
According to the lawsuit, Monsanto allegedly learned that its PCBs were toxic to humans in the 1930s, yet "it kept producing them for decades, while concealing the dangers, denying the toxicity, and failing to give reasonable warnings about the hazards they posed to the environment," the AG's office says.
"Monsanto voluntarily stopped producing PCBs more than 40 years ago. Monsanto sold PCBs to many industrial and manufacturing customers, as well as the U.S. government, which put them to various uses and disposed of them in different ways. We are still reviewing this lawsuit, and we will defend ourselves aggressively," said Scott Partridge, Vice President of Global Strategy at Monsanto.
The lawsuit alleges that Monsanto was negligent and created a public nuisance through its manufacture, distribution, and sale of PCBs.
Dewine is seeking relief including damages for harm to Ohio's natural resources.