Greenpeace has been urging outdoor apparel brands to stop using per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in their products and supply chains through its Detox campaign, designed to demand toxic-free fashion.
As part of this campaign, the environmental organization has planned expeditions during May and June, to seven remote areas around the world to collect water and snow samples to be tested for PFCs, which are used to make waterproof outdoor gear.
The goal of these expeditions is to find out how widespread PFC contamination is–especially in remote areas far–and whether the chemicals are affecting those ecosystems.
Greenpeace will visit the Haba Snow Mountains in China, the Golden Mountains of Altai in Russia and the Patagonian mountains of Torres del Paine in Chile. In addition, the organization will travel to locations in Europe including the Swiss Alps, the Sibillini National Park in the Italian Apennines, the High Tatras Mountains and Treriksroset, where the borders of Sweden, Norway and Finland meet.
“Some PFCs are known to be hazardous,” said Gabriele Salari, a member of the Detox Outdoor project at Greenpeace Italy. “With others, we don’t know enough. That’s why we are calling for much more stringent regulations to protect the environment and our health. In light of the hazardous properties of many PFCs, it is not enough to merely regulate single substances as is currently being done at the international level. Greenpeace demands that the entire group of PFCs be put to the test.”
According to Greenpeace, PFCs can remain in the environment for millions of years causing future generations to be exposed to contaminated water, air and food. These chemicals are already found in the ocean, on mountaintops and in almost all living creatures.
Exposure to high concentrations of PFC has been linked to cancer, hypothyroidism, ulcerative colitis, lower birth weight and size and decreased immune response to vaccines in children.
With this focus on outdoor apparel brands, the group wants those who are passionate about outdoor sports or wear a waterproof jacket to know that what they wear harms the environment. The group says awareness is already spreading quickly among politicians and scientists and it is pushing consumers to get involved as well.
Last month, more than 200 scientists from 38 countries signed the “Madrid Statement” urging for PFCs to be eliminated from the production of all consumer products, including textiles and asked for these chemicals to be replaced with safer alternatives.
Greenpeace has been challenging the fashion industry to eliminate toxic chemicals for four years, and since then 18 brands have responded by committing to this goal including, Nike, Adidas, Puma, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Zara, Mango, Esprit, Levi’s, Uniqlo, Benetton, Victoria’s Secret, G-Star Raw and Valentino, among others.