World January 26, 2016 | 12:35 pm

Hazardous chemicals found in many outdoor clothing brands

Munich, 25 January 2016- Hazardous and persistent chemicals, dangerous to human health and theenvironment, have been found in the products of leading outdoor brands. Brandslike The North Face, Patagonia, Mammut, Columbia and Haglofs keep using PFCs tomake their gear waterproof despite their claims of sustainability and love fornature, a new Greenpeace Germany report reveals. [The report “Leaving Traces.The hidden hazardous chemicals in outdoor gear” was presented today at a pressconference at ISPO Munich, the biggest outdoor trade show in Europe.

Greenpeace tested 40products purchased in 19 different countries and regions. Hazardous PFCs werenot only found in clothing but also in shoes, tents, backpacks, ropes and evenin sleeping bags. Only in four items were no PFCs detected. Although most ofthe brands tested claim publicly that they are no longer using the mosthazardous long-chain PFCs, they were still found in high concentrations in 18items.

“We found high levelsof PFOA, a long-chain PFC that is linked to a number of health effects,including cancer, in some products from The North Face and Mammut. Thissubstance is already restricted in Norway. These are disappointing results foroutdoor lovers who want their clothes to be as sustainable and clean as theplaces they explore,” said Mirjam Kopp, Detox Outdoor project Leader.

PFCs are chemicalcompounds that don’t exist in nature. Once released in the environment many ofthem degrade very slowly and enter the food chain, making pollution almostirreversible. They have been found in very remote areas of the planet[4], in animals like dolphins and in polar bears’ livers and even in humanblood.

“Brands like The NorthFace and Mammut are not walking their talk of love and respect for nature whenit comes to the chemicals they use in the production chain. Together with theoutdoor community, we challenge them to show us what true leadership andrespect for nature means: stop using hazardous chemicals and detox their gearnow” added Kopp.

In recent years, manyoutdoor brands have started switching from long chain to short chain PFCs,claiming that these are better alternatives. But recently, more than 200scientists from 38 countries signed the ‘Madrid statement’ which recommendsavoiding the use of PFCs — including short chain –for the production ofconsumer products, including textiles.

While major outdoorbrands are still highly dependent on hazardous chemicals, UK brand PáramoDirectional Clothing today announced its commitment to Detox. Páramo is thefirst brand in the outdoor sector that has already eliminated PFC from itsentire production chain, showing that high-performance PFCs-free gear ispossible and setting the highest standard within the sector. The UK brand joins34 international fashion and sports brands already committed to Detox.

“We are convinced thatthe outdoor community really has the leverage to be a game-changer in theindustry and we are calling on the brands to accept the challenge to detoxtheir customers are asking for “concluded Kopp.

This is the firstproduct testing from Greenpeace that was designed in collaboration with acommunity of supporters and outdoor lovers. More than 30,000 votes werecollected on, and Greenpeace sent the 40 most-voted products tothe lab.

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