ISPO, the Munich-based outdoor and snowsports trade fair, saw Nikwax support Greenpeace in their quest to detox the outdoors. This ISPO Nikwax invited key industry influencers and media to a presentation given by Nick Brown that described the chemistry and risks behind PFC water-repellents, and the differences and similarities between C6 and C8 PFC. Nikwax also invited special guest Greenpeace who explained progress in their detox campaign, which draws attention to PFC pollution, and other pollutants used in the manufacture of outdoor gear.
5 Things you should know about PFCs
1. C6 and C8 PFC based water-repellents are used to give outdoor gear their water-resistant properties. Many companies use these products in their aftercare products to maintain the Durable Water Repellent treatment [DWR] on the face fabric. Nikwax is the only established aftercare brand never to have used PFC water-repellency in their products.
2. Outdoor clothing contributes to PFC levels in indoor air. Concentration levels in indoor air can be up to 50 times higher than in outdoor areas.
3. C6 and C8 toxins do not biodegrade; they persist in the environment and are bio-accumulative. When we launder our outdoor garments with PFC-based proofers these toxins are released into waterways, polluting the fish within the water and consequently entering the food chain.
4. How are they bad? Children in the Faeroes have an inhibited immune system due to their predominantly fish-based diet that contains bio-accumulated PFC; studies of women in Greenland have correlated enhanced rates of breast cancer to PFC blood content.
5. Norway banned the use of C8 (PFOAs) in consumer products in June 2014. The German Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt) is currently running tests on two major C6 based PFC alternatives to C8-PFC for their toxicity and bioaccumulative properties. Shorter chained PFCs are often said to be less toxic, however, in their degradation process, their acids (PFHxA/PFHxS) are expected to have high mobility in the environment.
Small actions that will make a difference:
– In future check out whether a brand uses a PFC-free treatment before making a buying decision. Don’t be fooled into thinking that PFOA free means PFC free; often it does not.
– Visit the Greenpeace site and keep up to date with the progress that brands are making towards minimising their damage to the environment.