• Germany's news in English

Top-brand coats 'contain harmful chemicals'

The Local · 29 Oct 2012, 17:46

Published: 29 Oct 2012 17:46 GMT+01:00

The environmental group said in a study that the materials that make many clothing items useful in wind, rain and snow are also toxic.

"Images of pristine nature are often used for advertising outdoor clothing. But nature does not remain untouched by the chemicals in weather-resistant fabrics," it said.

"All over the world, from secluded mountain lakes and Arctic polar ice to deep in the oceans, traces can be found of perfluorinated and polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs), pollutants with properties that are harmful to the environment and health."

Greenpeace said it had tested 14 rain jackets and rain trousers for women and children from top brands such as German firms Jack Wolfskin, Adidas and Vaude, and American companies North Face, Marmot and Patagonia, for PFCs and found that each sample was contaminated.

It said that some PFCs were known endocrine disruptors and harmful to the reproductive system.

"Most brand name manufacturers use PFCs so that we stay dry in our outdoor wear, inside and outside," Greenpeace said.

"But these man-made compounds of carbon and fluorine are so stable that they can hardly be removed from the environment, if at all."

Story continues below…

The group launched its international Detox campaign in 2011 calling on textile manufacturers to replace hazardous chemicals used in production with safe alternatives, and on governments to step up regulation.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

19:29 October 29, 2012 by Enough
First they complain about natural materials like leather and fur and now they don't like the man-made stuff. They need to make up their mind...you can't run around without something warm in the cold weather!
19:51 October 29, 2012 by puisoh
Don't you see, they have to make a living too and finding fault is part of the game. Naming sustainable alternatives, providing solutions are things they can do -- be part of the solution, not the problem!
20:58 October 29, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Even if not worried about the environment it is worrying for anybody to be in contact with something chemically toxic. It always makes me smile to see the Jack Wolfskin families as soon as the summer is gone. They wear it like a badge of honour due to the exhorbitant price for these plastic rags. So many people have been duped into buying them the brand is not remotely exclusive any more and is more like a label of stupidity. Wouldn't wear one if I got it for nothing.
21:55 October 29, 2012 by whiteriver
@berlin fuer alles: this is exactly what I told my wife yesterday. The brand is probably of good quality but they print their logo everywhere in the jacket making the person look like a mobile advertisement.

btw, I support the greenpeace for bringing to the public attention if a toxic product is intentionally present in our clothes.
21:59 October 29, 2012 by zeddriver
@Berlin fuer alles

And just like I would ask those environmental whacko's. What are your alternative solutions?

I have owned the same Marmot goretex jacket and pants since 1986. They still work and look great. And thankfully I can still fit in them as well. Or I could get a cotton jacket and coat it with highly flammable paraffin wax. Or the same cotton or leather jacket and spray it with a toxic chemical every few months from a can to waterproof it.
22:16 October 29, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles

I never said I had an alternative solution. I similarly to Greenpeace am voicing concerns over the danger to health of these clothes.

' It said that some PFCs were known endocrine disruptors and harmful to the reproductive system.'

If they could make similar outdoor clothes that are safe to our health I would have no problem with wearing them. All the same though, I would not become a Jack Wolfskin Clone no matter what they do with their products. Knowing my friends they would probably laugh me off the street if I wore one.
22:52 October 29, 2012 by adipk
OMG!!!! this is so bad. they brought this idea so late. last week i spent 300 € on my new jacket. what should i do with. should i use it or waste it and ask money from greenpeace.
23:22 October 29, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles

You have rückgaberecht. Take it straight back tomorrow and ask for a refund.
23:47 October 29, 2012 by zeddriver
@Berlin fuer alles

I wasn't trying to pick on you personally. I just grow tired of so many (of the greenpeace/gonvernment types) telling me how to live my live because they "think" without proof that there may be a small chance that my jacket (or whatever disaster is on their radar that day) may rear-up and kill me. "MAYBE"

But by not offering an alternative to a problem is and has always been the hallmark of the more radical "we will think for you" types that populate the government and the environmentalist counter culture movement. I have yet to hear of a cause of death on a medical report state. "Death by Goretex" We all will die from something. Life does indeed cause death. I want to live in reasonable comfort. If my warm dry goretex jacket causes me to die a few minutes sooner than I otherwise would have. Then so be it.

I refuse to take anyone or group seriously. Unless an alternative solution to a problem is proffered by said group.

I apply the same to the greenpeace jackets are the death knell of the earth scenario. Show me an alternative that works and is as durable as the ones Greenpeace says I can't wear. Other wise Greenpeace can eat my krusty synthetic wicking Unterhosen.
04:38 October 30, 2012 by The-ex-pat
This is rather an amusing article and the smallest of small problems. Some of you are worrying about the chemicals in your coats, others are worrying about being a walking advert for a coat company and yet you all drive a car. If you are worried about this subject, then you should never, ever get into a car again. The chemicals that are gently gassing off from all the interior plastic, dash, seat surrounds, etc pales this into insignificance. Give the subject a Google when you have time.............
08:09 October 30, 2012 by pjnt
@berlin fuer alles

That's just it. Without something else, complaining is almost pointless. I would also look at natural alternatives if they were not so damned expensive. So I spend what I can on the best available which unfortunately contains PFC's.


It is less about working from top to bottom on the damage meter. There are many things, like planes, which far outstrip cars on the environmental evil list. It is about doing what you can, where you can. Every little bit helps. It is just as difficult today to exist without a car as it is to go outside without appropriate clothes.
08:59 October 30, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@zeddriver and pjnt

Agree with you guys too. If the tree huggers had their way we would all be sitting naked in a tree hut eating nuts and dying from exposure. My funeral would come a hell of a lot sooner that way. But you still would not see me dead in a Jack Wolfskin jacket :-)
11:29 October 30, 2012 by roboni
For people to actually complain about an organization that warns the public about products that can be potentially harmful to the environment and to your actual health!!!! is just beyond me. Greenpeace is just giving you information-thank god!! They are not making you buy or not buy anything. It is your choice. Now that I have this information I will go out and do my own research to find a better product for myself. I'm smart enough to do that on my own. If we leave companies to do whatever they want i.e. make products out of crap that is bad for all of us they would continue to do so for a profit. Most companies are profit motivated, which I totally understand because it is by definition- a company. But someone has to keep a check on these corporate giants to make sure they are not abusing our health on behalf of increasing profits for their shareholders. With protests and pressure from smart consumers and consumer organization I'm sure companies like Wolf and for God sacks the so-called made-in-the-pristine-south American mountains- Patagonia??will now find another way to make jackets without disrupting our hormones or making a sick. Besides if one stops buying these chemical laden walking advertisements and start buying so-called bio clothing maybe the price of the latter would drop. Besides these named-brand water-proofed jackets are freaking expensive anyway. You might as well spend the money on something that won't make you, your kids, family sick in the long run and is good for the environment, and not abusing third world workers with dollar a day wages. Every little bit helps!!
12:44 October 30, 2012 by zeddriver

You are correct. But only to a point. I want to see the evidence that a jacket has killed anyone. And of course your argument of switching to natural ways to protect one's self will fall flat if you talk to someone from PETA. I too want to be warned of dangers. "real dangers" Not theoretical ones. All one has to do is look at the wording in the statements of these organizations. If you see the words, Might, Possibly, could, Maybe, Given enough exposure, We think. All those are buzz words for we don't really know for sure. But we do want to scare you into backing up our agenda and ideology.

I want facts backed up by science and studies that are peer reviewed. Greenpeace IS NOT an altruistic organization. As a former member of the Sierra club. I can state from personal experience that their over all agenda is about anti capitalism. They want every aspect of your life managed by the government (and themselves). But they sugar coat it by talking about saving you and the world from "you". All that is required is for you to hand your life over to them.

I remember the saccharin artificial sweetener scare in the 1970's. Health organizations were up in arms over the "possible" (key word is possible) threat of it causing cancer. But. Upon further review. It was found that the saccharin cancer they saw in mice was cause by "large amounts" of saccharin. To put it into perspective. For a human to eat the same amount of saccharin they gave to the mice to cause cancer. A person would have had to drink a "minimum" of 2 24 can cases where each can had 12oz. of saccharin sweetened cola per day for years on end. That would equal 4.5 gallons (17 litres) of cola per day. Even then it was deemed that consuming that much just "might possibly" cause cancer. In the end it was junk science. But that sure didn't prevent the government from banning it. Of course several decades went by. Then the government reversed it self and said it should have never banned it.

The same has been said of coffee. On group says it will kill you. Another says it will help you. And that's what I don't like about these "groups" that claim they are only looking out for us. Again. Show me the facts. Not theories based on a preconceived agenda.
13:59 October 30, 2012 by raandy
I agree that the logos are overpowering on these outdoor clothes.

but also, i would like to see a study ,that supports the health risk.

Greenpeace,may have good intentions, I do not often support their methods,but as the old proverb states, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"
16:35 October 30, 2012 by neunElf
Damn those dangerous chemicals!

All they have done is make our lives longer and healthier than ever before, truly evil those chemical companies!
16:53 October 30, 2012 by TRJ
I guess this explains why my North Face obsessed ex-wife could never get pregnant.
17:01 October 30, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Good idea TRJ. Maybe I will shower my GF with presents of North Face and Jack Wolfskin. She is beginning to show signs of liking the idea of kids around.
17:08 October 30, 2012 by jimfromcanada
I think we should use something organic, like sealskin.
05:05 November 1, 2012 by charmjacket
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
10:09 November 5, 2012 by authun

Some of the chemicals, sure. Is the chemical industry making claim of the medical gains the past few decades?

Your invalid generalization is as lazy as it gets.
Today's headlines
Ansbach suicide attack
Isis says Syrian bomber in Bavaria one of its 'soldiers'
Photo: DPA

The Syrian asylum seeker who blew himself up outside a music festival in Germany was a "soldier" of the Isis, the jihadist-linked Amaq news agency said on Monday.

Merkel's refugee policy was 'reckless': Left Party leader
Photo: DPA

The attacks carried out by refugees over the past week show accepting large numbers of refugees brings "significant problems", the party's chairwoman said on Monday.

Ansbach suicide attack
What we know about the Ansbach suicide bomber
The attacker's rucksack. Photo: DPA

He had had his asylum application rejected and had twice attempted suicide, say authorities.

Ansbach suicide attack
Ansbach suicide bomber confirms Isis loyalty in video
Police remove evidence from the bombers residence. Photo: DPA

The man who blew himself up in Ansbach, Bavaria, on Sunday evening, injuring 15 people, recorded a video in which he pledged his allegiance to terror group Isis.

Top 10 German firms with the highest-paid employees
Photo: DPA

Want to know which companies shell out the most for salaries?

How will Germany change after string of bloody attacks?
A policeman in Ansbach on Sunday evening. Photo: DPA

Within seven days Germany has been hit by four bloody attacks on innocent people on its streets and in a train. What does this unprecedented string of murders mean for the country?

After attacks, minister rejects blanket suspicion of refugees
Thomas de Maiziere. Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Monday cautioned Germans against indiscriminately branding all refugees a security threat after a rash of attacks over the last week.

What we know about the Reutlingen knife attack
Police arrest the attacker. Photo: DPA

... and what we don't.

Munich shooting
Police arrest possible accomplice of Munich gunman
Mourners in Munich. Photo: DPA

Authorities in Munich believe that a friend of the teenager who murdered nine people at a Munich shopping centre may have known about his plans.

Ansbach suicide attack
Suicide bomber attacks bar in Bavaria
Photo: DPA

A Syrian migrant set off an explosion at a bar in southern Germany that killed himself and wounded a dozen others late Sunday, authorities said, the third attack to hit Bavaria in a week.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd