A scorecard ranking PFAS policy commitments from leading retail and apparel brands shows that Levi Strauss & Co. earned the highest mark for already eliminating PFAS from its supply chain. However, brands such as Macy’s Inc., Nordstrom, Costco, and others received low or failing marks, according to Natural Resources Defense Council, Fashion FWD, and U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the groups that sponsored the study.
Popular outdoor brands largely received poor grades. Columbia Sportswear, REI, Wolverine Worldwide, parent company of Wolverine and Merrell, and others received “F”s. Patagonia Inc. earned a “B”, the highest score in the sector, as the only outdoor brand with a commitment to phase out all PFAS in all products by 2024.
“This scorecard empowers consumers to use their shopping power for good,” said Sujatha Bergen, director of Health Campaigns for the NRDC. “Commitments from major apparel brands and retailers, alongside comprehensive policy changes, can significantly help combat PFAS pollution.”
It’s especially unacceptable and ironic for the outdoor apparel space to have scored as poorly as they did on PFAS, said Bergan.
PFAS are a class of toxic “forever chemicals” that pose a threat to air, water, and consumer product safety across the United States. They’re highly mobile and hard to break down, resulting in widespread contamination in the environment with inefficient options for mass cleaning.
Because many of these compounds accumulate in the body, PFAS-coated clothing may increase health risks over time through the exposures that come with each wearing, according to the Environmental Working Group. Any use of these chemicals is concerning and consumers should eliminate exposure as much as possible, because of potential health harms, the EWG recommends.