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PFAS Are Fashion’s Persona Non Grata

With the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) becoming a growing concern for many consumers, home textile companies have made moves to remove the chemicals from their products. Nassimi becomes the latest to eradicate the chemicals from all of its textiles.

Nassimi first produced PFAS-free faux leathers more than a decade ago, and the company has worked since then to remove the chemicals from its textiles while still maintaining performance characteristics associated with their use.

“Human health and environmental stewardship have always been of great importance to us at Nassimi. For many years now, we’ve been on the path to ending the use of potentially harmful chemicals in our fabrics, and we are proud to eliminate PFAS from all products,” said Iwan Nassimi, executive vice president, Nassimi. “Given our prior experience developing PFAS-free alternatives, I’m confident that our customers and end-users will still find that the performance capabilities of our fabrics exceed expectations.” 

Of the thousands of PFAS chemicals in existence, some have been linked to harmful health effects in people and animals. PFAS are also commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” since it takes them so long to break down, if at all. PFAS chemicals can leech into the soil and water during production, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products.

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Four states—California, Maine, Massachusetts and Minnesota—have legislation that prohibits the sale or distribution of carpets, rugs, fabric treatments, upholstered furniture and textiles using PFAS. The first state to have a law against the sale of upholstered furniture containing PFAS is Maine, which will be fully implemented on January 1, 2030.

This month, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) updated its restricted substance list (RSL) with PFAS class restrictions after the ZDHC banished the chemicals to its “naughty list” last year. The 23rd version of the RSL covers 12 categories with more than 250 chemicals and is updated to reflect additions or changes to regulations and laws that restrict or ban certain chemicals in finished apparel, footwear, accessories and home textile products.

“At a time when counterfeiters are manufacturing with no regard for product safety – and indeed allowing dangerous levels of chemicals and heavy metals (like arsenic, cadmium, phthalates, lead, and more) in the illicit products they sell to unwitting consumers, our members are proud to be leaders in product safety accountability around the world,” said Steve Lamar, AAFA president and CEO. “This tool is just one part of AAFA’s ever-updated programming and initiatives to achieve highest ethical and responsible standards – so that members, consumers, workers, and the environment thrive.”

PFAS headlines are anything but few and far between. A pair of class-action PFAS lawsuits ensnared panty makers Knix and Thinx while outdoor store REI also faces legal action over the use of the chemicals in some of its products. And while Wolverine was accused of doing the bare minimum to address PFAS remediation, a list last year in April ranked brand performance according to their PFAS pledges, giving kudos to Levi’s while essentially flunking many other high-profile names.