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Greenpeace mount successful expeditions to high altitudes and high latitudes using Nikwax PFC-free fabric technology

To draw attention to the threat posed by pollution from perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), Greenpeace has visited some of the most inhospitable places on earth, by foot, to sample the pristine water and snow for PFC chemicals. At the same time it tested PFC-free outdoor clothing in extreme conditions, aiming to overcome the myth that functional clothing needs PFCs for the toughest climates. A number of the garments used by Greenpeace researchers were manufactured by Páramo, who uses the PFC-free Nikwax Analogy waterproof fabric system. Expedition members commented that they were very happy with the equipment, even in harsh weather conditions above 5,000 metres of altitude.

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The new Greenpeace report “Footprints in the snow”, based on the expeditions, reveals PFCs can be found in some of the remotest corners of the world. PFCs have for years been used by many aftercare companies to achieve the water repellency of their treatments. Nikwax is the only aftercare and fabric technology provider to have never used PFCs, having assessed them as hazardous materials. PFCs do not break down easily in the environment and build up in our bodies. There is good scientific evidence that PFCs cause health issues: affecting the hormone system, promoting growth of cancerous tumours and causing sterility.

Previous Greenpeace research revealed PFC water repellents are found on the waterproofs of most major outdoor brands. For the latest report, the expeditions found traces of both long-chain C8 PFCs (traditionally used by outdoor brands) and short-chain C6 PFCs (more recently adopted as a “safer” alternative to C8s). The report highlights that most outdoor brands are still contributing towards the presence of PFCs after failing to eliminate these toxic chemicals from their products. Greenpeace believes outdoor companies need to avoid using all PFCs for the sake of human health and the environment.

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Nick Brown, CEO of Nikwax said: “I recognised 15 years ago that using PFC technology in Nikwax products would be taking a risk with the health of my consumers. Anyone who cares about the wellbeing of their family and future generations should be concerned that the continued spread of PFCs will leave us with decades of pollution to deal with. From outdoor lovers to city dwellers, the power is in the hands of ordinary people to urge the industry and politicians to take action on the total elimination of these toxins.”

Nikwax has been one of the few pioneers in the industry to campaign against the use of PFCs and earlier this year held a conference with Greenpeace at the ISPO Outdoor trade fair to simply lay out the dangers these chemicals pose.

It’s time to act! Find out more and read the full report at www.greenpeace.org/detox

Images: Greenpeace