PFAS Explained: These Forever Chemicals Are Being Banned from a Variety of Outdoor Products. Now Gear Makers Are Scrambling

By Laura Lancaster | Outdoor Life | May 13, 2024

Read the full article by Laura Lancaster (Outdoor Life)

"Outdoor gear is in the midst of a sea change. A common family of chemicals used for waterproofing, stain resistance, and durability — PFAS — is being banned in textiles in California and in apparel in New York starting in 2025. As a result, outdoor gear companies are working hard to remove these chemicals from their products. With PFAS being utilized in DWR treatments on wind jackets, waterproof treatment on down, tent fabrics, rain jackets, and much more, this will require a major shift for the industry. But what is PFAS, and why is it being banned? 

The reality is that the PFAS found in rain jackets is just the tip of the iceberg. PFAS have been in use for decades across a range of products and industries, including the outdoor industry. And the full impact of that toxic legacy is now turning up in our environment and in our bodies at an alarming rate. 

What Is PFAS?

PFAS, short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, was originally developed by Dupont in 1938, and a version of it quickly found its way into any number of household goods under a familiar name: Teflon. Its waterproof and stain-resistant properties made it extremely popular. Today there are nearly 15,000 chemicals in the PFAS family, including PFOS (Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid), which are found in everything from rain jackets to food packaging to shampoo."