In the Netherlands you cannot do without rainwear, but many water-repellent rainwear are made using PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). If you search online for a raincoat, you will often find the term DWR ( durable water repellent ). A 2022 study by the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam shows that PFAS can be released by the influence of sun and rain on outdoor clothing during wear (yikes!).
PFOA and PFOS are examples of this Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Fortunately, the use of these substances in the production of rainwear has been prohibited since 2020. Unfortunately, there are many more PFAS in circulation that have not (yet) been banned. PFAS are not natural, are not or hardly degradable and accumulate in plants and animals (bioaccumulation). Additionally, PFAS are associated with several negative health effects. They are associated with hormonal disruption, weakening of the immune system, reduced fertility, increased risk of certain cancers (such as kidney and testicular cancer), impaired growth and development in infants and children, and problems with the liver, thyroid and cholesterol levels. The research into PFAS is growing every day and we are increasingly discovering how bad they actually are. In short: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are very harmful to people and nature and you want to avoid them in your rainwear.
What should you pay attention to?
Always check the information on the label inside the garment or the label information on the packaging when purchasing a raincoat. If you have any questions about the use of chemicals in rainwear, you can ask the supplier directly. A supplier is obliged to give you an answer about the presence of PFAS within 45 days.
On various websites it is recommended to look for raincoats with it Bluesign or Oeko-Tex Standard 100 quality mark. From July 2024, substances treated with PFAS can no longer obtain the Bluesign certificate, so that's good news! However, we do not recommend that you focus blindly on these certificates: always check with the supplier whether they have actually banned PFAS in the production chain.
Raincoats without PFAS
The good news is that you can protect yourself and the environment by purchasing a raincoat without PFAS. Fortunately, in recent years, excellent alternatives for rainwear without PFAS have come onto the market. Before we give you our tips for the best less toxic raincoats, a few editorial notes:
*PFAS-free no longer exists. PFAS is everywhere, even in the air we breathe all the time. When we say "PFAS-free", we mean that the brand or manufacturer of the raincoat, according to our research, has not knowingly added Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances,
*For this blog we only looked at raincoats without PFAS. It is possible that the raincoat still contains other chemicals and nasties. Just think of dyes or plastics.
Swedish brand Fjällräven is one of the first outdoor brands to start banning PFAS from its clothing. In 2012, the brand launched Eco-Shell , with a PFAS-free DWR. Admittedly, it is not the cheapest brand out there , but the raincoats are beautiful.
The German brand Vaude is a real leader in PFAS-free rainwear. As DWR, Vaude has developed its own, PFAS-free, ' Eco Finish '. In 2010 , they began gradually eliminating PFAS in their materials. The brand aims to no longer use PFAS throughout its entire production chain by 2025.
Didriksons is a brand that has been around for quite some time, but it has a modern vision. On the Didriksons website we can read that their surface treatments to make clothing water-repellent do not contain fluorocarbons/perfluorinating substances, and they have been doing this since 2015!
Disclaimer (Do Your Own Research): We are happy to share with you our experiences and knowledge that we have gained in our search for a toxic-free life. At the same time, we would like to emphasize that you are solely responsible for your health (that goes without saying, right?). The information we share here is for general educational purposes and is not personalized medical advice. Everyone is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.