Paramo is well known in the UK for its use of Nikwax technology to bring innovative and functional designs to market. Now it is ensuring that all raw materials are screened to exclude PFC (fluorocarbon) water-repellency treatment
Awareness of PFC environmental and health problems is growing daily, especially in German speaking countries. PFCs have been used for years in oudoor clothing, but now the evidence is building to show that they represent a severe environmental hazard. In fact, these chemicals are already in all of us, trapped in our blood, and are almost impossible to get rid of. Above a certain level, they will contribute to the risk of cancer and other diseases. Most of have a relatively low level, which probably will not significantly affect us, but people living off seafood in the Arctic have high levels, which are affecting the health of their communities.
Because these PFC materials are so persistent, and used so widely in outdoor textiles, it is difficult to find any materials that are not polluted with a trace of them. Therefore, measurement for control is extremely difficult. In 2012, Greenpeace tested a number of brands, including jackets which had been specifically made for Greenpeace. Both Greenpeace jackets and other brands claiming to be PFC-free showed levels of PFC, raising the question of how to exclude them from the supply chain.
Whilst there is PFC pollution coming from all over the place, the real major source is the PFC water-repellent chemicals used on garments, carpets, and even pizza bozes. So to control whether a fabric or a component has been treated with PFC water-repellent, what is required is a simple, quick and inexpensive test, not for PFCs, but to check for the presence of PFC water-repellent treatment. Nikwax has developed this test for Paramo, enabling the manufacturer to screen all of its components to ensure that they are PFC-treatment free.