Bloomberg: J&J Sets Aside Almost $4 Billion for Talc Verdict, Accords — In a Monday securities filing, J&J said it was taking a “litigation expense of $3.9 billion” related to ‘primarily talc-related reserves and certain settlements.” It also said J&J now faces 25,000 lawsuits by former Baby Powder users who claim asbestos-laced talc in the product caused their cancers. That’s almost a 39% jump in the number of cases from last year. It reserved some of the money for a 2018 Missouri verdict for 20 women who blamed the company’s powders for ovarian cancer. J&J contends its talc is safe and hasn’t been contaminated by asbestos. The Missouri Supreme Court in November refused to hear J&J’s arguments that the reduced verdict was flawed and excessive. The company is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw the award out entirely.

Bloomberg Law: EPA Moves Ahead ‘Forever Chemicals’ Regulation, Monitoring — The EPA said this week it’s moving forward with an unregulated contaminant monitoring rule for drinking water and final regulatory determinations for two types of “forever chemicals.” The monitoring, done under the auspices of the Safe Drinking Water Act, gives the Environmental Protection Agency a snapshot into emerging contaminants and will help inform future agency decisions, which could lead to regulations. The agency will take comments for 60 days once the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

National Law Review: PFAS Drinking Water Rules: One Step Closer To Final Rule — The National Law Review predicts that PFAS drinking water rules will be finalized at the federal level this year. This will require states to act, as well (and some states may still enact stronger regulations than the EPA). Both the federal and the state level regulations will impact businesses and industries of many kinds, even if their contribution to drinking water contamination issues may seem on the surface to be de minimus. In states that already have PFAS drinking water standards enacted, businesses and property owners have already seen local environmental agencies scrutinize possible sources of PFAS pollution much more closely than ever before, which has resulted in unexpected costs.

St. Louis Today: Hit hard by Roundup and dicamba payouts, Bayer posts billions in losses — Agribusiness giant Bayer on Thursday posted billions of dollars in losses, driven largely by payouts to settle allegations that the company’s weedkillers damaged crops and hurt people. The company attributed payouts of more than 20.4 billion euros — about $25 billion — to its crop science business, including the former Monsanto Co. in Creve Coeur, according to year-end financial results released Thursday. The sum included settlements related to marquee Monsanto weedkillers Roundup and dicamba. Last year, Bayer reached an agreement to pay up to $10.9 billion to settle thousands of glyphosate cases. Earlier this month, the company announced an additional $2 billion to resolve future Roundup claims.

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia lawmakers may tighten air monitoring rules for Sterigenics, others — Two pieces of legislation moving through the Georgia General Assembly would impose new restrictions on facilities that emit ethylene oxide. If signed into law, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division would be allowed to install equipment that can monitor EtO emissions from exhaust points at facilities such as the Sterigenics plant in Cobb.