Hidden Chemicals in your Clothes | PFAS in Textiles

Video link: https://youtu.be/4qYigRK8Rj0

Hi! I am about to rage about one of my special interests for over 20 minutes straight. Don’t worry though, I brought the receipts. 🙂

Yes, this history is exceptionally simplified for the sake of brevity and storytelling. No, it was not really as simple as one halogen, then the next and then the next (they were pretty much all experimented with concurrently). But that doesn’t change the fact that the industry executives responsible knew of the health issues involved and chose to do nothing in the name of profit. They are still only doing their best to do less than the bare minimum.

I do try to avoid PFAS, Teflon, and many other environmental pollutants when I can, but as you can see from our own household examples, we all make mistakes, and I am still going to say yes to clothing I can use from people who can no longer use them themselves. Make each item last as long as possible and all that.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

The movie Dark Waters.

My published articles.

Abbreviations used in this video:

  • DDT – Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. One of the original 12 “dirty dozen” of persistent organic pollutants was originally targeted by the Stockholm convention for its adverse effects on wildlife. Originally used as a pesticide, now only allowed sparingly as a malaria repellent
  • PFAS/PFASs – Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Man-made chemical structures with one or more fluor elements bound to a carbon “skeletal” structure. Considered “forever chemicals”, very resilient to breaking down, harmful to humans and wildlife, and accumulates in fat tissues. Found all over the world at this point.
  • PFCs – Polyfluorinated compounds, more used in older articles and some colloquial news articles. See PFAS.
  • PFOA – Perfluorooctanoic acid (one of the most common PFAS substances). Base structure for making Teflon, among other things. Extremely persistent in nature.
  • PFOS – Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (another very, very common PFAS). Used in stain repellents, fabric protectors, and fire-fighting foams, among other things. Other PFAS might break down into PFOS, which is highly persistent in nature.
  • POPs – Persistent organic pollutants. Large group of chemicals that encompasses several PFASs. To be acknowledged as a POP, a substance must persist in nature over several years, cause adverse health effects, or have the potential to cause adverse health effects, get distributed globally through natural processes, and accumulate in the food web


  1. T. Perkins, “PFAS in Textiles,” The Guardian, Jan. 26, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/26/water-resistant-products-toxic-pfas-study
  2. “Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) and the Stockholm Convention on POPs,” Stockholm Convention, UN environment programme. [Online]. Available: http://chm.pops.int/Implementation/IndustrialPOPs/PFAS/Overview/tabid/5221/Default.aspx
  3. T. Perkins, “PFAS in Children’s textiles,” The Guardian, Jul. 05, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/07/pfas-forever-chemicals-children-textiles
  4. E. Gribkoff, “PFAS in clothing,” Feb. 15, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.ehn.org/pfas-clothing-2656587709.html
  5. “New study finds toxic chemicals in most products labeled stain- or water-resistant,” Toxic-Free Future. https://toxicfreefuture.org/press-room/new-study-finds-toxic-chemicals-in-most-products-labeled-stain-or-water-resistant/ (accessed Nov. 01, 2022).
  6. “Teflon coated wool flatcap,” Glencroft. [Online]. Available: https://www.glencroftcountrywear.co.uk/product/100-wool-teflon-coated-traditional-flat-cap/
  7. N. Yamashita, K. Kannan, S. Taniyasu, Y. Horii, G. Petrick, and T. Gamo, “A global survey of perfluorinated acids in oceans,” Mar. Pollut. Bull., vol. 51, no. 8–12, pp. 658–668, Jan. 2005, doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2005.04.026.
  8. D. A. Jackson, T. J. Wallington, and S. A. Mabury, “Atmospheric Oxidation of Polyfluorinated Amides: Historical Source of Perfluorinated Carboxylic Acids to the Environment,” Environ. Sci. Technol., vol. 47, no. 9, pp. 4317–4324, May 2013, doi: 10.1021/es400617v.
  9. M. Houde, J. W. Martin, R. J. Letcher, K. R. Solomon, and D. C. G. Muir, “Biological Monitoring of Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: A Review,” Environ. Sci. Technol., vol. 40, no. 11, pp. 3463–3473, Jun. 2006, doi: 10.1021/es052580b.
  10. A. K. Greaves, R. J. Letcher, C. Sonne, R. Dietz, and E. W. Born, “Tissue-Specific Concentrations and Patterns of Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylates and Sulfonates in East Greenland Polar Bears,” Environ. Sci. Technol., vol. 46, no. 21, pp. 11575–11583, Nov. 2012, doi: 10.1021/es303400f.
  11. P. A. Fair et al., “Contaminant blubber burdens in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from two southeastern US estuarine areas: Concentrations and patterns of PCBs, pesticides, PBDEs, PFCs, and PAHs,” Sci. Total Environ., vol. 408, no. 7, pp. 1577–1597, Mar. 2010, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.12.021.
  12. H. Ishibashi et al., “Contamination and Effects of Perfluorochemicals in Baikal Seal ( Pusa sibirica ). 1. Residue Level, Tissue Distribution, and Temporal Trend,” Environ. Sci. Technol., vol. 42, no. 7, pp. 2295–2301, Apr. 2008, doi: 10.1021/es072054f.
  13. S. Wei et al., “Distribution of perfluorinated compounds in surface seawaters between Asia and Antarctica,” Mar. Pollut. Bull., vol. 54, no. 11, pp. 1813–1818, Nov. 2007, doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2007.08.002.
  14. L. Ahrens, Z. Xie, and R. Ebinghaus, “Distribution of perfluoroalkyl compounds in seawater from Northern Europe, Atlantic Ocean, and Southern Ocean,” Chemosphere, vol. 78, no. 8, pp. 1011–1016, Feb. 2010, doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.11.038.
  15. L. Ahrens and M. Bundschuh, “Fate and effects of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances in the aquatic environment: A review: Fate and effects of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances,” Environ. Toxicol. Chem., vol. 33, no. 9, pp. 1921–1929, Sep. 2014, doi: 10.1002/etc.2663.
  16. C. M. Butt, U. Berger, R. Bossi, and G. T. Tomy, “Levels and trends of poly- and perfluorinated compounds in the arctic environment,” Sci. Total Environ., vol. 408, no. 15, pp. 2936–2965, Jul. 2010, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.03.015.
  17. M. Shoeib, T. Harner, and P. Vlahos, “Perfluorinated Chemicals in the Arctic Atmosphere,” Environ. Sci. Technol., vol. 40, no. 24, pp. 7577–7583, Dec. 2006, doi: 10.1021/es0618999.
  18. K. Kannan, L. Tao, E. Sinclair, S. D. Pastva, D. J. Jude, and J. P. Giesy, “Perfluorinated Compounds in Aquatic Organisms at Various Trophic Levels in a Great Lakes Food Chain,” Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 559–566, May 2005, doi: 10.1007/s00244-004-0133-x.
  19. M. Cai et al., “Polyfluorinated compounds in the atmosphere along a cruise pathway from the Japan Sea to the Arctic Ocean,” Chemosphere, vol. 87, no. 9, pp. 989–997, May 2012, doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.11.010.
  20. H. Chen, C. Zhang, Y. Yu, and J. Han, “Sorption of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) on marine sediments,” Mar. Pollut. Bull., vol. 64, no. 5, pp. 902–906, May 2012, doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.03.012.
  21. S. Trimmel et al., “Rapid Determination of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Harbour Porpoise Liver Tissue by HybridSPE®–UPLC®–MS/MS,” Toxics, vol. 9, no. 8, p. 183, Aug. 2021, doi: 10.3390/toxics9080183.
  22. M. Černá et al., “Biomonitoring of PFOA, PFOS and PFNA in human milk from Czech Republic, time trends and estimation of infant’s daily intake,” Environ. Res., vol. 188, p. 109763, Sep. 2020, doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.109763.
  23. L. Hanssen, A. A. Dudarev, S. Huber, J. Ø. Odland, E. Nieboer, and T. M. Sandanger, “Partition of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in whole blood and plasma, assessed in maternal and umbilical cord samples from inhabitants of arctic Russia and Uzbekistan,” Sci. Total Environ., vol. 447, pp. 430–437, Mar. 2013, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.01.029.
  24. R. Arrieta-Cortes, P. Farias, C. Hoyo-Vadillo, and M. Kleiche-Dray, “Carcinogenic risk of emerging persistent organic pollutant perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS): A proposal of classification,” Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol., vol. 83, pp. 66–80, Feb. 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2016.11.021.
  25. J. L. Butenhoff, D. J. Ehresman, S.-C. Chang, G. A. Parker, and D. G. Stump, “Gestational and lactational exposure to potassium perfluorooctanesulfonate (K+PFOS) in rats: Developmental neurotoxicity,” Reprod. Toxicol., vol. 27, no. 3–4, pp. 319–330, Jun. 2009, doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2008.12.010.
  26. C. Fang et al., “Embryonic exposure to PFOS induces immunosuppression in the fish larvae of marine medaka,” Ecotoxicol. Environ. Saf., vol. 92, pp. 104–111, Jun. 2013, doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2013.03.005.
  27. M. E. Franco, G. E. Sutherland, M. T. Fernandez-Luna, and R. Lavado, “Altered expression and activity of phase I and II biotransformation enzymes in human liver cells by perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS),” Toxicology, vol. 430, p. 152339, Jan. 2020, doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2019.152339.
  28. S. Fuentes, M. T. Colomina, P. Vicens, N. Franco-Pons, and J. L. Domingo, “Concurrent Exposure to Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Restraint Stress during Pregnancy in Mice: Effects on Postnatal Development and Behavior of the Offspring,” Toxicol. Sci., vol. 98, no. 2, pp. 589–598, Apr. 2007, doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfm121.
  29. X. Gong, C. Yang, Y. Hong, A. C. K. Chung, and Z. Cai, “PFOA and PFOS promote diabetic renal injury in vitro by impairing the metabolisms of amino acids and purines,” Sci. Total Environ., vol. 676, pp. 72–86, Aug. 2019, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.208.
  30. J. Han and Z. Fang, “Estrogenic effects, reproductive impairment and developmental toxicity in ovoviparous swordtail fish (Xiphophorus helleri) exposed to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS),” Aquat. Toxicol., vol. 99, no. 2, pp. 281–290, Aug. 2010, doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2010.05.010.
  31. S. E. Ånestad, “Toxic outdoor clothing at a high price for factory workers – Framtiden i våre hender.” https://www.framtiden.no/english/toxic-outdoor-clothing-at-a-high-price-for-factory-workers.html (accessed Nov. 01, 2022).
  32. D. Carrington, “Orca ‘apocalypse’: half of killer whales doomed to die from pollution,” The Guardian, Sep. 27, 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/27/orca-apocalypse-half-of-killer-whales-doomed-to-die-from-pollution
  33. K. M. Gabrielsen et al., “Thyroid hormones and deiodinase activity in plasma and tissues in relation to high levels of organohalogen contaminants in East Greenland polar bears (Ursus maritimus),” Environ. Res., vol. 136, pp. 413–423, Jan. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.09.019.
  34. M. A. McKinney et al., “Flame retardants and legacy contaminants in polar bears from Alaska, Canada, East Greenland and Svalbard, 2005–2008,” Environ. Int., vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 365–374, Feb. 2011, doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2010.10.008.
  35. R. Carson, Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin Company. [Online]. Available: http://www.rachelcarson.org/SilentSpring.aspx
  36. “The 12 Initial POPs,” Stockholm Convention. http://chm.pops.int/TheConvention/ThePOPs/The12InitialPOPs/tabid/296/Default.aspx (accessed Oct. 28, 2022).
  37. C. A. de Wit, D. Herzke, and K. Vorkamp, “Brominated flame retardants in the Arctic environment — trends and new candidates,” Sci. Total Environ., vol. 408, no. 15, pp. 2885–2918, Jul. 2010, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.08.037.
  38. K. Vorkamp, R. Bossi, F. F. Rigét, H. Skov, C. Sonne, and R. Dietz, “Novel brominated flame retardants and dechlorane plus in Greenland air and biota,” Environ. Pollut., vol. 196, pp. 284–291, Jan. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2014.10.007.
  39. G. Frenzilli et al., “Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S Induce Endocrine and Chromosomal Alterations in Brown Trout,” Front. Endocrinol., vol. 12, 2021, Accessed: Nov. 03, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2021.645519
  40. M. A. Sogorb, J. Estévez, and E. Vilanova, “Case study: Is bisphenol S safer than bisphenol A in thermal papers?,” Arch. Toxicol., vol. 93, no. 7, pp. 1835–1852, Jul. 2019, doi: 10.1007/s00204-019-02474-x.
  41. M. Thoene, E. Dzika, S. Gonkowski, and J. Wojtkiewicz, “Bisphenol S in Food Causes Hormonal and Obesogenic Effects Comparable to or Worse than Bisphenol A: A Literature Review,” Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 2, p. 532, Feb. 2020, doi: 10.3390/nu12020532.
  42. G. L. Carlson and S. Tupper, “Ski wax use contributes to environmental contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances,” Chemosphere, vol. 261, p. 128078, Dec. 2020, doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.128078.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Looking for a specific post? Search or check the archive.

Latest videos:

  • Knit My Leaf Cowl With Me
    Knit My Leaf Cowl With Me

    Discover the therapeutic power of knitting as we embark on a soothing journey to create a stunning cowl. Join me as I share my personal experience, patterns, and tips for creating a warm and thoughtful gift for your loved ones.

  • Hand Stitching A New Apron For Spring
    Hand Stitching A New Apron For Spring

    The above link isn’t working, or I just want you to take me to YouTube! I know spring cleaning may be a bit of a trope, but by golly, it does feel so good to wipe the dust from the nooks and crannies of a home that feels like it has been hibernating over the […]

  • Don’t Try To Make A Reversible Coquelicot Skirt While Affected By Plague 😅
    Don’t Try To Make A Reversible Coquelicot Skirt While Affected By Plague 😅

    YouTube link: https://youtu.be/N4MgzdWNe7k How many times do you spot Soot cameos in various shapes and sizes? Because Madam was being exceptionally sociable. 🐈‍⬛ Less-than-ideal circumstances aside, coquelicot skirts and the whole concept are really cool! I can easily see how this would work for comfy trousers or secret pants as well and it could be […]