THE GREAT CONTAMINATED OUTDOORS
Eight Greenpeace teams traveled to well-known remote areas across three continents to collect water and snow samples, and test them for PFCs, the hazardous chemicals used to make outdoor gear waterproof.
WHAT ARE PFC'S - Chemical molecules released by industry during the production of water resistant outdoor gear like jackets or tents
HOW HAZARDOUS ARE THEY - Studies show that PFCs impact the reproductive and immune system. They are also potentially carcinogenic.
PFC IS EVERYWHERE - Once released into the environment, they are distributed globally in the atmosphere. They are highly persistent, which means they stay in the environment for a very long time.
AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Research on animals has shown that some PFCs cause harm to reproduction, promote the growth of tumors and affect the hormone system. Researchers are finding serious health concerns about PFCs, including increased risk of some cancers.
ALRIGHT... WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Which outdoor gear can I still safely buy? Alternatives to membranes made using PFCs are Sympatex, Paltex or Toray, for example. Some smaller outdoor companies, such as PUREBRANDZ, Fjällräven, Paramo, Pyua, Rotauf or R’ADYS, already have entire collections of functional weatherproof clothing that are PFC-free.
Introducing SympaTex Fabric to all PURE clothing...
Being outdoors on a sunny day is amazing. Being outdoors on a day when the weather is a bit feisty is even more amazing when you have the right jacket. So when it came time to design our newest collection, we searched far and wide for a material that breathes and is water resistant to a standard above the accepted norm. Oh... and did we mention we would only use the material if it was recyclable.
This may have seemed an impossible standard but thanks to recent innovation and like-minded outdoor sustainable apparel enthusiasts, we found SympaTex. This German company produces a material, Sympatex, using a membrane that is 100% waterproof, 100% windproof, 100% recyclable, and has optimal breathability.
Each and every single one of our ski and mountain jackets use this material. Able to withstand water column pressure of up 45,000 mm in testing, with a membrane being considered waterproof by EN 343 standards if it can resist a pressure of 1,300 mm, Sympatex ensures our users are ready for whatever nature throws their way.
LEARN MORE ABOUT PFCS, WHERE THEY COME FROM AND WHY THEY SHOULD NOT BE USED IN THE PRODUCTION OF OUTDOOR GEAR
What are PFCs?
Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals are a family of man-made, fluorine-containing chemicals with unique properties to make materials stain resistant and waterproof. PFCs are incredibly resistant to breakdown; some have the potential to remain in the environment for hundreds of years after being released. They are turning up in unexpected places around the world.
These pollutants have been found in secluded mountain lakes and snow, they’ve been discovered in the livers of polar bears in the Arctic and even in human blood.
- PFOA is a suspected to be a human carcinogen; it causes liver, pancreatic, testicular, and mammary gland tumors in laboratory animals. PFOS has been known to cause liver and thyroid cancer in rats.
- Some PFCs cause a range of other problems in animals, including liver and kidney damage, as well as reproductive problems.
- PFOA’s half-life in our bodies, or the time it would take to expel half of a dose, is estimated at more than 4 years. PFOS’s half-life is estimated at more than 8 years.
Even if production were to end today, PFC pollution would remain the environment for many years to come.
Are there any health risks if I wear a jacket containing PFCs?
PFCs are not known to go directly through the skin and there is no evidence of direct health risks from wearing clothes containing PFCs. The chemicals are released into the environment during the textile’s manufacture, as well as when they’re washed and disposed of. PFCs can enter our bodies when we breathe contaminated air or when we ingest food, drink water, or through exposure to house dust containing PFCs.