Research finds popular outerwear brands use carcinogens

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4th March 2016 16:22 - Chemicals

According to a global study by Greenpeace, 90 per cent of items of outerwear contain perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, which are defined as a family of carcinogenic chemicals.

The environmental group, Greenpeace, discovered that of the chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, was discovered in The North Face Hedgehog Hike Mid GTX outdoor shoes and Patagonia Torentshell waterproof trousers. Both of the items of outerwear are sold in Hong Kong, as well as 33 other items from 11 of the brands in the research study.

During the research, Greenpeace tested 40 items and dozens of similar items, such as gloves, tents and jackets.

The research revealed that Patagonia trousers have 2.4 micrograms of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) per square metre, which is 2.5 times higher than Norway’s safety limit, where the clothes originate from.

Greenpeace have stated that 36 of the 40 products in the research were found to contain perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).

The outdoor shoes from Norway, Haglöfs Grym HI GT Men, were found to have traces of 16 different types of perfluorinated compounds. The shoes are not sold in Hong Kong. In the shoe sample, approximately 18.35 micrograms of perfluorooctanoic acid were discovered per square metre of the shoe sample, which is 17 times higher than Norway’s limit.

Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are usually used in dirt-repellant and waterproof outerwear.

During the production process, carcinogens are released and in turn, could end up in one’s bloodstream, should they enter the food chain.

Andy Chu, who is an Asia Campaigner for Greenpeace, said that the manufacturers in the survey promised to explore the survey findings; however, they did not disclose whether they would stop using the chemicals.

Chu added that international brands and businesses should act as role models for other manufacturers, claiming that many outerwear items are manufactured without the use of dangerous chemicals.

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