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Hikers may be inadvertently harming the environment and risking their health by wearing clothing waterproofed with "forever chemicals", according to research by Ethical Consumer.

Ethical Consumer magazine looked at 27 companies producing outdoor clothing such as fleeces, waterproof jackets, hiking boots and backpacks and found that 82 percent still use per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances or PFAS.

Some chemicals classified as PFAS have been linked to health problems such as high cholesterol, fertility, immune system disorders and some cancers. These chemicals have been used in consumer products since the 1950s and can take hundreds of years to degrade, contaminating soil and water supplies.

The British Government is considering restricting the use of PFAS in consumer products under the UK's REACH chemical regulations because they can be dangerous, the Government said in February. There are alternatives, though. Páramo and Finisterre use no PFAS in their products, while Fjällräven, Alpkit, Lowe Alpine and Patagonia are mostly PFAS-free. These companies and more than a dozen others say they will stop using PFAS next year.

However, nearly half of the companies evaluated by Ethical Consumer have not announced a PFAS phase-out date.

Ethical Consumer author and researcher Jane Turner said: "Irreversible global pollution and the extreme toxicity of 'forever chemicals' have not been discussed for years, yet most outdoor clothing companies are still using them unnecessarily and adding to the burden of PFAS pollution. This is unacceptable, and companies must stop using these chemicals. Consumers should only buy from responsible companies that stop using PFAS."

According to Fidra, an environmental charity aiming to reduce plastic waste and chemical pollution, there are over 10,000 PFAS chemicals. Those used in outdoor clothing help fabrics repel water, allowing liquid to slide off.

While the process of material wear means that hikers wearing outdoor clothing emit some of the chemicals into the environment, most PFAS pollution occurs during the production of the substances, when applied to the fabric and when a product is discarded.

"PFAS have been found in rivers running through the UK, on the slopes of Mount Everest and in more than 600 species of wildlife, from polar bears to bottlenose dolphins," said Hannah Evans, project manager at Fidra.


Albania News Agency


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