Consumers Seek PFAS-Free Products As Regulators Fight Water Contamination

It seems that the attention on one of the world’s most high-profile drinking water and wastewater contaminant classes is doing some good, as manufacturers of all stripes work to eliminate the chemicals from their products.

The contaminants in question are known as PFAS, short for “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances,” also known as “forever chemicals” because of the long-lasting environmental impact that they have in source water and beyond. Consumption of PFAS through drinking water has been linked to severe health consequences for consumers and a wave of court battles is seeking to hold the responsible industrial polluters accountable.

Now, the urgency around PFAS contamination seems to have stretched well beyond the drinking water and wastewater treatment industries, as businesses of all types seek to offer products that are free of them. For instance, a list of products without intentionally added PFAS published by the Environmental Working Group showcases the efforts of dozens of companies, from Home Depot to H&M.

In particular, the apparel industry seems to be making a concerted effort to eliminate the use of PFAS.

“Environmental and consumer protection groups are increasingly mounting pressure on all types of companies to stop using PFAS, or to at least clarify their use of PFAS,” reported. “A new report by consumer protection non-profit U.S. PIRG looked at the use of PFAS by the top 30 U.S.-based clothing companies, and detailed who is using them and who isn’t … The report begins by praising Levi Strauss & Co., Victoria’s Secret, Keen Footwear, and Deckers Brand, which makes UGG, Teva, and others, for eliminating the use of PFAS in their clothing altogether.”

For consumers who are seeking out PFAS-free products — likely to be a lucrative, emerging market — there are some key indicators to look out for.

“If a brand says its products are PFAS-free, PFC-free, or free of fluorinated chemicals, then they are clean,” according to Ecocult. “If a brand says it is PFOA-, PFOS-, long-chain- or C8-free, or says it uses short-chain finishes, then the brand still uses a certain type of PFAS that has similar health concerns, albeit somewhat less studied. The EPA says there are around 12,000 known types of PFAS and growing.”

As water systems, industrial wastewater operations, and regulators work to reign in the far-reaching contamination problems posed by PFAS, it seems like consumers will have a growing number of “forever-chemical-free” products to choose from.

Leave a Reply


Recent Blogs