Consumer advocacy groups launch campaign to get Columbia Sportswear 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

BOSTON — U.S. PIRG Education Fund and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) launched a campaign on Tuesday calling on outdoor gear and apparel brand Columbia Sportswear to phase out the use of PFAS in its products and supply chains. Last month, the company received low marks in a scorecard report released by the advocacy groups. The report found that Columbia Sportswear has failed to adopt policies that ban PFAS chemicals or provide up-to-date, publicly available information on any ongoing efforts to phase out these toxic chemicals from their products.

“There is a lot of work to be done to address toxic forever chemicals that are polluting our air, water, land and bodies. Companies, such as Columbia Sportswear, that promote healthy lifestyles and outdoor recreation to their consumer bases have an important role to play in turning off the tap on PFAS,” said U.S. PIRG Education Fund Zero Out Toxics Advocate Emily Rogers

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of over 12,000 toxic chemicals that are used to make a wide variety of consumer products – including outdoor gear and clothing – resistant to water, stains and grease. These substances, often called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down and build up in our bodies and the environment, pose a health threat. PFAS exposure, even in small amounts over time, has been linked to serious health effects including immune suppression, reduced vaccine effectiveness, developmental issues and cancer

“International brands like Jack Wolfskin and fabric manufacturers like Polartec have successfully taken steps to eliminate PFAS from their products. It’s high time Columbia Sportswear does the same,” said NRDC Health Campaigns Director Sujatha Bergen. “There’s no longer an excuse to allow these toxic ‘forever chemicals’ to needlessly contaminate our bodies and the environment. Protecting the outdoors and our bodies should be Columbia Sportswear’s number one priority.”

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund and NRDC campaign urges Columbia Sportswear to phase out the use of PFAS in its products by 2024. The campaign builds on U.S. PIRG Education Fund and other advocacy groups’ work to ban PFAS in a wide variety of consumer goods, including food packaging and cosmetics.

“Americans should be able to enjoy the great outdoors without polluting the places we love with toxic chemicals from our gear,” said Rogers. “I urge Columbia to lead the industry away from these toxic chemicals and protect consumers by phasing out PFAS from its products and supply chains in the next two years.”