These Clothing Brands Stopped Using PFAS Chemicals

Environment

Some brands have already phased out PFAS, while others are lagging behind.

Levi Strauss & Co., Victoria’s Secret, Keen Footwear and Deckers Brands are among the companies that have already phased out PFAS. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

You’ve probably heard more and more about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in recent years, as environmental and consumer protection groups have raised awareness of the issue.

PFAS are no joke. A some degree of exposure can increase your risk of prostate, kidney and testicular cancer, weaken your immune system and lead to complications during pregnancy and childbirth, among other health problems.

The scary part is that PFAS is everywhere – in your clothes, in your food, in your cooking utensils, and maybe even in your water, and it can easily enter your body through consumption or prolonged skin contact.

In all likelihood, you probably already have low levels of PFAS in your body, and since PFAS are “eternal chemicals”, they take a very long time to break down and are unlikely to leave your body.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth preventing further exposure.

Environmental and consumer protection groups are increasingly pressuring all types of businesses to stop using PFAS, or at least clarify their use of PFAS.

A new report by consumer protection nonprofit US PIRG examined the use of PFAS by the top 30 US-based apparel companies and detailed who uses them and who doesn’t.

“As a major user of PFAS, the apparel industry can play a key role in turning off the tap on PFAS pollution,” US PIRG wrote in its report.

US PIRG also ranked companies based on their PFAS phase-out timelines, the range of products covered by their PFAS policy, the public availability of their PFAS commitments, and their PFAS labeling and testing protocols.

The report begins by commending Levi Strauss & Co., Victoria’s Secret, Keen Footwear and Deckers Brands, which manufacture UGG, Teva and others, for completely eliminating the use of PFAS in their apparel.

The report also says other companies have clear, time-bound commitments to eliminate all PFAS from their apparel, including American Eagle, Ralph Lauren, Gap Inc. and PVH, the parent company of brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Speedo. , and Patagonia.

Yet, US PIRG reported, most US-based apparel companies have weak commitments when it comes to eliminating PFAS from their products.

Of the 30 apparel brands and retailers surveyed, according to the report, 18 brands and retailers received a grade of D or lower.

Some of these companies did not have a public commitment to phase out all PFAS, while others committed to phase out only PFOA and PFOS, which are two PFAS chemicals that have already been phased out in United States, according to the report.

These brands include Macy’s, Walmart, Skechers and Wolverine, the parent company of Hush Puppies, Keds, Merrell, Stride Rite and others.

In particular, according to the report, apparel companies that manufacture outerwear are lagging when it comes to removing PFAS from their garments.

The report said REI, LL Bean and VF Corp., the parent company of The North Face, Timberland, Jansport and others, received D or F ratings for incomplete engagements that only excluded certain PFAS or had long elimination times.

Additionally, according to the report, many companies use outdated, inaccurate, or misleading definitions of PFAS in their PFAS commitments and communications, which can confuse consumers about whether or not a product contains PFAS. .

For example, according to the report, companies should stop using the “PFC of no environmental concern” label if their products contain PFAS, as this falsely suggests that some PFAS are not of environmental concern.

US PIRG ended its report with a list of recommendations for apparel retailers, policy makers and consumers regarding PFAS.

He said apparel companies should publicly commit to phasing out all added PFAS in their garments, labeling all PFAS-containing products as containing PFAS, and urging industry trade associations to adopt these recommendations. for their members.

He also encouraged federal and state governments to ban all PFAS in consumer apparel and to require labeling of products containing PFAS until all uses are phased out.

Finally, US PIRG suggested consumers urge lawmakers and their favorite brands to take action to eliminate PFAS.

Michael O. Stutler