Advocates at Outdoor Retailer call on companies to phase out toxic ‘forever chemicals’

Media Contacts
Emily Rogers

Former Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

DENVER — Ahead of the Outdoor Retailer Summer trade show, Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center and CoPIRG Foundation, state affiliates of Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund, hosted a media conference on Wednesday to call on the outdoor industry to phase out toxic PFAS chemicals from their products and supply chains. At the event, the environmental and consumer advocates highlighted companies that are lagging behind and celebrated the companies that are taking action.

Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center Director Rex Wilmouth spoke about a recent bill signed into law in Colorado. The law will restrict PFAS in consumer products, helping to protect consumers and Colorado’s waters from contamination. PFAS-laden outdoor gear and apparel were not covered by the new law.

“Earlier this month, Governor Polis signed into law one of the country’s most comprehensive laws restricting PFAS contamination in consumer products. Amid a statewide drought, it’s more critical than ever that we protect our rivers, streams and lakes from dangerous PFAS pollution,” said Wilmouth. “The outdoor gear industry should build on growing momentum to turn the taps off PFAS pollution.” 

NRDC’s health campaigns director, Sujatha Bergen, highlighted a recent report published by advocates about the outdoor companies that still have work to do to eliminate all PFAS from their products and supply chains. 

“The failure of most outdoor industry apparel brands to eliminate PFAS is striking given the growing attention regulators and consumers are paying to PFAS and the environmental focus of consumers,” said Bergen. “It is time for outdoor companies to catch up and do their part to protect public health.”

Peter Arlein, founder and CEO of mountainFLOW, a PFAS-free ski wax and bike lubricant company also spoke about the company’s journey  to develop products that are PFAS free and why that’s important to them.

“Our outdoor products work as well without PFAS as anything else out there. As a small homegrown Colorado brand, we’ve proven that you don’t need PFAS to have high-quality outdoor products,” said Arlein. “The future for the outdoor industry is PFAS-free. Outdoor companies need to decide: Do you want to be one of the first brands leading the way on PFAS or do you want to be one of the last brands straggling at the rear?”

U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Toxics Advocate Emily Rogers provided a national perspective with recommendations for consumers and legislators on how to eliminate PFAS in clothing and gear.

“Eliminating PFAS is no small feat and there is a lot of work to be done to get all PFAS out of the outdoor clothing and gear industry, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary and important,” said Rogers. “We don’t need to use PFAS to shield us from rain or prevent a few sweat stains. It’s just not worth the risk of polluting our bodies or the environment with these dangerous ‘forever chemicals.’ We urge the brands and suppliers attending this week’s Outdoor Retailer Summer show to do the right thing by committing to phase out all PFAS from their products and supply chains.”