Clothing company Marks & Spencer (M&S) is pledging to phase out toxic PFCs from its clothing lines by 2016.
The pledge is in response to the Greenpeace Detox campaign, and M&S is setting a July 1, 2016 goal for phasing out these harmful chemicals. Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are great at resisting stains and water, which is why they’re used in clothing, but like many chemicals in our lives, that small convenience comes with unintended consequences for our health.
Why are PFCs harmful?
PFCs are great for making clothing water-resistant and stain-resistant, but it’s also linked to a slough of health problems. It’s a likely carcinogen and causes liver, pancreatic, testicular, and mammary gland tumors in lab animals. Animal tests have also shown that PFCs can damage the liver in other ways and cause reproductive problems.
The other problem with PFCs is actually part of what makes them useful in products: they are persistent. That means they don’t easily break down. Even if we cut out all of the PFCs in our lives right now, it would take four to eight years for this harmful chemical to leave our bodies.
Unfortunately, companies don’t have to label which of their products contain PFCs, so it takes a little bit of research. Whenever you’re shopping for something stain- or water-resistant, check with the company to see if they use PFCs. You can also support companies like Marks & Spencer (mark your calendars for 2016!) and H&M who have pledged to detox their clothing.
Clothing isn’t the only place you find harmful PFCs. Cookware is another major culprit, especially nonstick cookware. Teflon pans all contain PFCs, so you’re best off getting those out of your kitchen in favor of stainless steel or cast iron. You can also find PFCs in fast food packaging, because it keeps the grease from the food from soaking through the wrappers.
PFCs are also in cleaning products and cosmetics, and you can look out for the words ”fluoro” or ”perfluoro” on product labels. You can even find PFCs in dental floss, because they help the floss glide smoothly. Click here to learn more about alternatives to PFC-laden floss.
Are you concerned about PFCs in your clothing, cosmetics, and household products? What are you doing to banish this toxic chemical from your life?
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by uggboy