Internal documents show the Minnesota company hid the dangers for decades. 3M toxicologist Richard Purdy did a study in 1998 to see whether any of the company’s perfluorochemicals showed up in the blood of eagles and albatrosses.
That seemed unlikely, given the birds’ diet consists mostly of fish. So Purdy was surprised and disturbed when he found levels in their blood similar to those found in human blood. It even showed up in bald eagle nestlings whose only food was fish their parents fed them from remote lakes.
That indicated what Purdy later called “widespread environmental contamination” — the likelihood the manmade, toxic chemicals were moving through the food chain and accumulating in animals.
Purdy warned 3M that if wild birds’ blood contained the chemicals, then fish-eating mammals — like otters, mink, porpoise and seals — could have it, too. A study of rats found they had significant levels of a 3M chemical in their livers, likely from eating fishmeal.
BY: DEENA WINTER
DECEMBER 15, 2022