Toxins in all-weather jackets
Random samples of all-weather jackets made from the materials Fine Tex DuPont Teflon, GoreTex Pac Lite, Helly Tech and TCS Water were analysed by the NILU-Laboratory, one of the world’s leading laboratories for this type of analysis.
The garments are sold and marketed under the brands Polarn o. Pyret, Peak Performance, Helly Hansen and Everest.
The fluorinated chemicals that were found in high concentrations are persistent and accumulate in living organisms. They have been shown to have harmful effects on the fertility and hormone functions of mammals. These environmental toxins can now also be found in many living animals, including polar bears and humans. Some of these chemicals are admittedly broken down in nature, but the breakdown products are often similar, and sometimes more harmful, substances.
“The analyses show worrying levels of harmful chemicals in clothing that children wear every day. In the worst cases these chemicals can cause major damage to health and the environment. The fact we know little about these fluorinated toxins makes matters worse,” commented the chairmen of the two environmental organizations, Mikael Karlsson of SSNC and Lars Haltbrekken of NSCN.
The compounds originate from the waterproofing agents with which all-weather clothing is treated, and they are spread in the air and water. Although it has been known for some time that these chemicals can be present in waterproofing treatments, no information was available about their concentrations or mobility. Because there is no requirement to declare the content of any waterproofing treatment used on a garment, consumers and retailers have no knowledge of the chemicals they contain. As yet no political decision has been taken to protect consumers.
The chemicals applied on the fabrics have a complex technical mixture. We measured several different fluorine containing substance classes. Some of them are stable in mammals and humans causing an increase of concentrations over time, while others can be transformed to stable and harmful compounds.