Leaving Traces

The hidden hazardous chemicals in outdoor gear

Publication - 25 January, 2016
In this latest investigation Greenpeace tested a range of outdoor gear for hazardous per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). The study reveals that not only outdoor clothing and footwear but also camping and hiking equipment such as backpacks, tents and sleeping bags contain chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and to human health.

This follows an analysis conducted on items produced and sold by various outdoor brands, selected for testing by outdoor enthusiasts and Greenpeace supporters. This is the first time a Greenpeace product testing investigation has been designed with the participation of the public.

Out of the 40 products that were tested, only four were found to be free from the per- and polyfluorinated chemicals that were investigated, to the detection levels used.

The study shows that chemicals that are known to be hazardous, among them substances of very high concern such as PFOA and other long chain ionic PFCs, are still being widely used for products sold by outdoor brands. At the same time the tests show a shift in the type of PFCs being used towards short chain PFCs – chemicals that are also persistent but less well researched in some aspects.

The investigation also shows that volatile PFCs such as long and short chain FTOHs (fluoro telomer alcohols) are used in high concentrations, leading to considerably higher extractable concentrations in many final products.

This report was produced by Greenpeace Germany and is available in English below.

Download Report: Leaving Traces - The Hidden Hazardous Chemicals in Outdoor Gear

Download Technical Report: Leaving Traces - Greenpeace Research Laboratories