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Results

Key Findings

  1. PFAS are commonly used for stain and water resistance. The majority (72%) of items marketed as stain- or water-resistant, or 34 of 47 with this type of labeling, contained PFAS. On the other hand, none of the 13 items without stain or water resistance marketing appeared to contain PFAS.
  2. Multiple types of consumer products contain PFAS. We detected PFAS in a wide variety of products that included rain jackets, hiking pants, shirts, mattress pads, comforters, tablecloths, and napkins.
  3. No retailer’s product line was totally PFAS-free. At least one product from each of the 10 retailers—Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Macy’s, REI, Target, TJX, and Walmart—contained PFAS.
  4. Manufacturers have been using a mixture of PFAS that includes compounds banned in other countries. Our testing found not just the newer compounds believed to be the most commonly used, but also the older PFAS banned in the European Union and phased out by major U.S. manufacturers. Most PFAS-containing items (74%) tested positive for these older PFAS and in some cases, they were the most abundant or only PFAS detected.
  5. Alternatives to PFAS for stain and water resistance are in use. We found items in each category that were marketed as stain- and/or water-resistant yet appeared to be free of PFAS.

Our screening for total fluorine identified 35 products containing fluorine at levels above 100 ppm, which we used as a screening level. These 35 products underwent compound-specific testing that included testing for the fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), building blocks used to make PFAS-containing surface treatments known as side-chain fluorinated polymers. The laboratory testing we commissioned also included compounds such as PFOA and PFHxA that are the well-known persistent degradation products of PFAS-containing surface treatments.

Among those 35 products that underwent compound-specific testing, PFAS were detected in 34. Nearly three quarters (25 of 34) of these products contained a PFAS mixture that included or contained only older PFAS banned in the European Union and phased out by major U.S. manufacturers. Older (also known as long-chain) PFAS are defined here as perfluorocarboxylic acids with carbon chain lengths of eight or more and perfluoroalkane sulfonic acids with carbon chain lengths of six or more. USEPA regulations that went into effect in September 2020 prohibit the import of articles containing some of the older PFAS without prior approval; since we purchased these items in the fall of 2020, they may have been imported before the new regulations went into effect.

The widespread presence of PFAS in household textiles and outdoor apparel for stain and water resistance raises concerns about the contribution of these products to human exposures via indoor and outdoor air, house dust, drinking water, food, and breast milk.

Outdoor Apparel

The 20 outdoor apparel items tested included 13 jackets, three shirts/pullovers, and four pairs of pants. All were labeled as stain-or water-resistant. We found the following:

  • Among 20 items tested, we detected PFAS in 15. Eight contained the older PFAS banned in Europe and phased out by major U.S. manufacturers.
  • Most jackets (9 of 13) were treated with PFAS. In five of the jackets, we detected only newer PFAS; four jackets, including three under the REI brand, contained a mixture of older and newer PFAS, also known as long-chain and short-chain compounds, respectively.
  • Two name-brand rain jackets, made by Mammut and The North Face, tested below our screening level for fluorine and appear to be made with alternatives to PFAS.
  • We detected PFAS in most (6 of 7) other apparel labeled as water- or stain-resistant. Four of these items, purchased at Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, contained mainly or only older PFAS.

 

We detected PFAS in 15 of 20 jackets, shirts/pullovers, and pants, all of which were marketed as stain- or water-resistant.

 

Table 1: PFAS in Outdoor Apparel

= older PFAS detected = newer PFAS detected

Retailer Product PFAS Detected

All Items Labeled Stain- or Water-Resistant

Alpine Design Men’s Altitude 2.0 2L Rain Jacket

Dakine Women’s Noella Tech Flannel Button Down Shirt

DSG Girls’ Insulated Jacket

DSG Boy’s Rain Jacket

DSG Men’s Wind Jacket

 

The North Face Women’s Resolve 2 Rain Jacket

 

Under Armour Men’s Storm Windstrike 1/2 Zip Golf Pullover

Under Armour Women’s Woven Anorak Jacket

Columbia Rainy Trails Fleece Lined Jacket, Girls’

Mammut Kento HS Hooded Jacket, Men’s

 

Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket, Women’s

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket, Men’s

REI Co-op Westwinds GTX Jacket, Women’s

REI Rainwall Jacket, Kids

REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pant, Women’s

 

REI Co-op Savanna Trails Pant, Men’s

Canis Cute Kids Girls’ New Flowers Hooded Raincoat

 

5.11 Tactical Women’s Stain Resistant Shirt

Lelinta Men’s Casual Trousers

Rothco Tactical Duty Pants

 

Jackets

We tested 13 jackets, including 11 rain jackets, one insulated jacket, and one wind jacket. We purchased the majority of these items from two major retailers, REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods. In many cases, total fluorine testing revealed high fluorine content, up to 8%, indicating the likely presence of heavy PFAS surface treatments, PFAS membranes, or both. While the Alpine Design, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Patagonia Torrentshell jackets contained exclusively newer PFAS, all three REI-branded items, including two made with Gore-Tex, contained a mixture of older and newer compounds. Based on label information and the very high total fluorine content in the Gore-Tex jackets (4 to 8%), the two Gore-Tex jackets likely contain a PFAS membrane known as ePTFE as well as a PFAS-based surface treatment, or durable water repellent (DWR). Surprisingly, we detected all four fluorotelomer alcohols we analyzed for in the Gore-Tex jackets, including six-, eight-, ten-, and twelve-carbon, despite Gore’s claim that it phased out eight-carbon PFAS in 2013. Older PFAS were also detected in the REI-brand Rainwall Jacket for kids.

Other Apparel

We tested two pairs of hiking pants from REI, a shirt and two pairs of pants purchased at Walmart, and a golf pullover and flannel shirt from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Although the REI hiking pants were labeled similarly as having a durable water repellent finish, one pair contained PFAS but we did not detect fluorine in the other pair. Three items from Walmart contained PFAS, and in all cases the older compounds were most abundant. We detected PFAS in both items from Dick’s Sporting Goods, including older PFAS in the flannel shirt and newer compounds in the golf pullover.

 

Bedding

The 20 bedding items tested included four comforters, seven mattress pads or covers, and nine sheets or pillowcases. Thirteen of these items were labeled as stain- or water-resistant. Our testing found the following:

  • We detected PFAS in nine of the 13 bedding items marketed as stain- or water-resistant. None of the items without such claims tested above our screening level for fluorine.
  • All four comforters contained PFAS; all were labeled as stain- or water-resistant.
  • Three of the four comforters contained a mixture of older and newer PFAS.
  • Four of the seven mattress pads or protectors tested contained PFAS; six were labeled as stain- or water-resistant.
  • Only one of eight tested sheet sets—pillow protectors marketed as Teflon®-treated, waterproof and stain-resistant—tested positive for fluorine and contained PFAS. Three of the eight sheet sets were marketed as stain- or water-resistant.

 

Nine out of the 13 bedding items marketed as stain- or water-resistant contained PFAS.

 

Table 2: PFAS in Bedding

= older PFAS detected = newer PFAS detected

Retailer Product PFAS Detected

Items Labeled Stain- or Water-Resistant

Fresh Ideas Cotton Rich Pillow Protectors Treated With Teflon

Peak Performance Knitted Microfleece Sheet Set

 

Real Simple Fresh and Clean Fiberbed

Therapedic Mattress Pad

 

Beautyrest Black® Total Protection Mattress Pad

The Big One Essential Mattress Pad

 

Down Home DuPont™ Sorona® Mattress Pad

Epoch Hometex Sleep Ease 400 Thread Count Comforter

Cottonloft StayClean Cotton Water and Stain Resistant Fiberbed Protector Set

Madison Park Down Alternative Comforter Set

Sealy Cool & Clean Sheet Set

 

Epoch Hometex Sleep Ease Nano Fiber Comforter

Sertapedic Crib Mattress Pad Cover

Items Not Labeled Stain- or Water-Resistant

AmazonBasics Lightweight Super Soft Easy Care Microfiber Bed Sheet Set

 

Joovy Room 2 Waterproof Fitted Sheet

 

Madison Park Sheet Set

 

Panda Baby Rayon Viscose Crib Sheet

 

Martha Stewart Collection Solid Open Stock 400 Thread Count Sheet Collection

 

Sleep Philosophy Sofabed Mattress Pad

 

Bed Gear Hyper-Cotton Sheet Set

 

 

Comforters

We tested four comforters, all of which were labeled as stain- or water-resistant. Because they all contained fluorine levels greater than our screening level of 100 ppm, they all underwent compound-specific testing for PFAS. Three of the four comforters contained the older PFAS phased out in some countries; in two of the comforters, these older compounds were the most abundant and both contained the well-known toxic compound PFOA.

Mattress Pads

We tested seven mattress pads or protectors, six of which were labeled as stain- or water-resistant or waterproof. Four contained fluorine above the screening level and contained a mixture of older and newer PFAS, some at high concentrations. Total fluorine testing detected no fluorine in three mattress pads; two of these claimed stain resistance and/or waterproofing, indicating that their makers use alternatives to PFAS to achieve those functions.

Sheets

We tested eight sheet sets, including one crib sheet and one set of pillow protectors. Only the pillow protectors tested positive for fluorine above the screening level and underwent further testing. The pillow protectors—“Fresh Ideas Cotton Rich Pillow Protectors Treated with Teflon®”—contained both older and newer PFAS.

 

Tablecloths and Napkins

We tested 14 tablecloths and six napkins, and found the following:

  • We detected PFAS in 10 of the 20 tablecloths and napkins tested; 14 were labeled as stain- or water-resistant.
  • Most (8 of 11) of the tablecloths labeled as stain-or water-resistant contained PFAS.
  • None of the tablecloths or napkins that were not marketed as stain- or water-resistant tested above our screening level for fluorine.
  • In four of the eight PFAS-treated tablecloths, we detected exclusively older PFAS.
  • Two of the six napkin sets tested contained PFAS; three were marketed as stain-resistant.

 

We detected PFAS in 10 of 14 tablecloths and napkins with stain or water resistance claims.

 

Table 3: PFAS in Tablecloths and Napkins

= older PFAS detected = newer PFAS detected

Retailer Product PFAS Detected

Items Labeled Stain- or Water-Resistant

Hiasan Checkered Tablecloth

Maxmill Square Tablecloth

Provence Imports French Provencal Tablecloth

Wamsutta Classic Tablecloth

Cuisinart Basketware Stain-Resistant Microfiber Napkin

Food Network Easy-Care Woven Tablecloth

Elrene Barcelona Damask Stain Resistant Napkin

 

Town and Country Living Tablecloth

 

Harvest Meadow Easy Care Spillproof Tablecloth

Colordrift Halley Patches Water Resistant, Easy Care Tablecloth

Daily Chef Table Napkin

Efavormart Round Polyester Tablecloth

 

Infinity Collection Spill Proof Fabric Tablecloth

Members Only Merida Tablecloth

 

Items Not Labeled Stain- or Water-Resistant

St Nicholas Square Warm & Cozy Napkin

 

Elrene Farmhouse Living Buffalo Check Tablecloth

 

C & F Berkeley Yellow Cotton Reversible Napkin

 

34th & Pine Napkin

 

Newbridge Fabric Tablecloth

 

Mainstays Fraser Tablecloth

 

 

Tablecloths

Of the 14 tablecloths we tested, 11 were labeled as stain- or water-resistant, with varying language including phrases such as “spills bead up and wipe away quickly.” Nine tested above the screening level of 100 ppm for total fluorine and underwent further testing. We found PFAS in eight of those tablecloths, all labeled as stain- or water-resistant. In one tablecloth, we did not detect PFAS although it tested above the screening level for total fluorine. This was possibly due to use of a PFAS treatment we were unable to detect as there are more than 9,000 PFAS and our testing could capture just 51 of them. We did not detect fluorine in two tablecloths labeled as stain- or water-resistant; neither disclosed a separate treatment so it is unclear whether the fabric or weave is inherently resistant or a PFAS-free treatment was used.

Napkins

Just two of the six napkin sets tested above our screening level for fluorine, and they both contained PFAS: Daily Chef Table Napkins, purchased at Walmart, and Cuisinart Basketweave Microfiber Napkins, purchased at Kohl’s. PFAS detected in both items included older PFAS.

 

Results by Retailer

We detected PFAS in at least one item from each of the 10 retailers.

Four of five products from Amazon contained PFAS, including the older PFAS banned in the European Union and phased out by major U.S. manufacturers.

Of the seven products purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond, two contained PFAS. One of these items included both older and newer PFAS; the other contained only newer PFAS. Apparently PFAS-free items included several sheet sets and a mattress pad advertised as stain-resistant.

The Beautyrest® mattress pad we tested contained both older and newer PFAS, including all of the fluorotelomer alcohols we tested for; two precursors of the toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative PFOS; and persistent PFAS including PFHxA and PFOA.

Six of eight products purchased at Dick’s Sporting Goods tested above our screening level for total fluorine, and we detected PFAS in each of these. The DSG (Dick’s Sporting Goods’ store brand) jackets contained only newer PFAS, while others, including an Under Armour® jacket and Dakine flannel shirt, also contained or were dominated by older PFAS.

Four of the six products purchased at Kohl’s contained PFAS: a mattress pad, a comforter, a tablecloth, and napkins. All four contained older PFAS, and the mattress pad and comforter also contained newer PFAS.

Of the four items purchased at Macy’s, including a tablecloth, mattress pad, mattress protector set, and sheets, only the mattress protector set tested above our screening level for fluorine and contained PFAS.

Six of the eight products purchased at REI contained PFAS. Three items contained only newer PFAS, and three contained a mixture of older and newer PFAS. Two REI-branded jackets made with Gore-Tex tested particularly high for total fluorine, likely due to the use of a PFAS- membrane in addition to a surface treatment. All three REI-branded jackets contained older PFAS.

One of the five products purchased at Target, a comforter, contained PFAS. Sheets, two sets of napkins, and a tablecloth purchased at Target tested below our screening level for total fluorine.

Two of five items purchased at TJX (including TJ Maxx and HomeGoods) contained PFAS: two tablecloths marketed as stain-resistant. A sheet set, tablecloth, and napkins tested below our screening level for total fluorine.

Eight of 11 products purchased at Walmart tested above our screening level for fluorine, and we detected PFAS in seven of those: a shirt and two pairs of pants labeled as water- or stain-resistant, a tablecloth, a crib mattress cover, a comforter, and a napkin set. We found older PFAS in all of those seven items, and newer PFAS in five.

 

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