Two outdoor brands come clean as air tests reveal continued hazardous chemical use

Press release - 13 July, 2016
Friedrichshafen, 13 July 2016 – Air tests in stores of global outdoor brands, Mammut, The North Face, Norrona and Haglöfs, reveal that concentrations of volatile PFCs — hazardous and persistent chemicals that evaporate into the air — are up to 60 times higher in these stores than in an average enclosed room, and up to 1,000 times higher than in outside air. The findings were released today in a new report by Greenpeace Germany. [1]

“Tests show that toxic chemicals continue to taint the preferred gear of nature lovers,” said Mirjam Kopp, Greenpeace’s Detox Outdoor project lead.

“The North Face, Mammut, Norrona and Salewa all claim to love and respect nature, but they are hiding behind strong brand names and making empty promises, while contributing to irreversible toxic pollution. We urge them to act quickly, sign a Detox commitment and switch to toxic-free production,” she added.

Greenpeace conducted air tests in stores in Taiwan and five European countries: Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The highest PFC-concentrations were found in German stores of the Swiss outdoor brand Mammut, followed by Haglöfs store in Oslo, Norway.

High PFC-concentrations continue to raise health concerns among scientists. Studies show that exposure to volatile PFCs can be linked to increased levels of PFCs in the bloodstream. For example, the PFC substance known as 8:2FTOH can transform into a toxic carcinogen (PFOA) and remain in the body for years. Exposure to some PFCs has also been associated with adverse health effects in humans, including kidney and testicular cancers. [2]

Two brands today joined Greenpeace’s global Detox Outdoor campaign. Vaude in Germany and Rotauf in Switzerland announced that they will clean their production chains from all hazardous chemicals by 2020. Rotauf has already eliminated all PFCs and Vaude aims to do so by 2018 [3]. They join UK-based Paramo in committing to zero chemical discharge and transparent monitoring systems.

“Earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of outdoor lovers brought the PFC problem to the attention of their favorite brands, challenging them to stop polluting the environment,” said Kopp. “Now the mountain is moving — some brands recognize the need to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their production chains and adopt existing, high-performance PFC-free alternatives,” she added.

Greenpeace has assessed outdoor brands on the basis of their public statements on PFCs. The Brand Update [4] ranks brands as DETOX CHAMPIONS, FALLING SHORT on their promises or entirely OUT OF THE RACE in eliminating PFCs and addressing the environmental harm they continue to cause. In several cases, brands have publicly stated their support to eliminate PFCs from their gear by 2020, only to hide them in membranes, backpacks, shoes or sleeping bags. Some brands lack transparency or a proper monitoring system for chemicals in their production chains.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

[1] ‘Hidden in Plain Sight — Poly-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in the air of outdoor stores’ report here.

[2] Several independent studies cited in the report raise concerns of the possible effects of high PFCs exposure on workers’ health. Greenpeace urges national health authorities to further investigate the impact of PFC exposure on human health.  

[3] Brand detox commitments from Vaude and Rotauf.

[4] The Brand Update is available here.

Contacts:

Cecilia Preite Martinez, Communications Lead Detox Outdoor, Greenpeace Italy, +39 348 3988 615,

Mirjam Kopp, Global Project Leader Detox Outdoor, Greenpeace Switzerland, +41 44 447 41 59,

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours),

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