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17 Jul. 2014

Outdoor-jacket test detects high amount of polluting chemicals


After testing 15 outdoor jackets and five impregnating agents of poly- and perfluorinated chemicals (PFC), the German Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt; UBA) has found high levels of these substances, which severely contribute to the environmental pollution. Poly-and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are widely used in jackets, pants or sports clothing to make them water-and stain-resistant.

The study aimed to determine the emissions of PFCs from outdoor jackets and concurrently the associated risk to humans and the nature. PFCs were found in all the 15 tested jackets, which are liberated to the environment through washing processes and evaporation. Then these chemicals spread through rivers, seas, deep sea and into the groundwater. Organisms are also exposed to PFC, as these particles are inhaled by air or ingested through water and food.

Maria Krautzberger, president of the UBA: "Unfortunately, the impregnations don’t stay in the jackets, but evaporate into the air or reach the sewage treatment plants while washing and from there get into natural water courses. Even though the jackets deliver few PFC into the environment compared to other sources, the question is whether this type of waterproofing substances must be used."

Germany, together with Norway, will present a legal restriction for PFC and its precursors to the EU. This includes limits for products, such as textiles, medical products and household goods. Some manufacturers already rely on PFC-free impregnation.

Lorenzo Molina

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