PFAS: an invisible enemy

Environment, pollution and fashion

There’s a scary, invisible enemy: PFAS chemicals. Found in everything from your favourite outdoor jacket to the drinking water you consume, these chemicals pose a serious threat to both the environment and human health.

To better understand this threat, we attended a Greenpeace meeting at Arci Bellezza with Fashion Revolution, Mamme NO PFAS, CNR, IRSA, and Consorzio Italiano Detox.

We were familiar with the topic thanks to “Dark Waters” – a remarkable movie with Mark Ruffalo. Indeed, contamination is known worldwide: read more on Le Monde.

What are PFAS chemicals?

What are PFAS chemicals?
PFAS (poly and perfluoroalkyl compounds) are a large group of synthetic molecules (over 10 thousand) produced only by human activities. Also called forever chemicals, meaning once released into the environment, we’ll never get rid of them!

What are the health risks?
They are dangerous for health and associated with numerous pathologies, even serious ones, including some forms of cancer. Several European states asked to ban them.

Where are PFAS used for?
Industries have used PFAS since the 1950s to produce numerous commercial products: fabric waterproofers, carpets, leathers, insecticides, firefighting foams, paints, food container lining, non-stick pans, floor wax, detergents and beauty products.

Fashion industry and PFAS
From outdoor garments to water-repellent materials, raincoats, jeans, and undies. The fashion industry uses these chemicals throughout the manufacturing cycle.

The contamination in Lombardy:

Greenpeace detected PFAS in the waters of many Lombardy municipalities, including Milan. Carried out on a sample of data – by an independent accredited laboratory – the analyses highlighted the presence of PFAS in 11 drinking water samples out of the 31 collected. In four cases, the PFAS concentration is higher than the limit of the European Directive 2020/2184. In seven cases, the results show variable total PFAS concentrations.

Among the speakers Greenpeace has invited, Michela’s words, a member of “Mamme NO PFAS” – was really powerful! A mother from the Veneto region, the most impacted area, found out her daughter’s blood contained a high quantity of these chemicals. So, she joined other mothers to make their voices heard by politicians, inspiring others to do so.

How can we protect ourselves?

Being informed on contaminated areas, filter the tap water. However, some articles say to limit the use of products containing chemicals. Which sounds like “take your poison, but take it responsibly!”
But, given that PFAS are an invisible enemy, can we really protect ourselves from them?

We believe addressing single fields, such as fashion, agriculture or others, is relatively effective because there is a major cause we need to address. And this major cause is our economic system, capitalism, which sucks life out of the planet as well as out of humans.

Furthermore, how can we humans consider ourselves intelligent when we pour pollutants into the water, poisoning our own environment?

Donate to Greenpeace to support their investigations!

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