“The PFAS issue is analogous to climate change,” says Nathaniel Sponsler, director of the Apparel and Footwear International Restricted Substances List Management Group (AFIRM). AFIRM is one of three Phylmar Group® www.phlymar.com professional forums that bring EHS and sustainability professionals together to share best practices in workplace safety and product stewardship. AFIRM www.afirm-group.com was established in 2004 with a mission to reduce the use and impact of harmful substances in the apparel and footwear supply chain.
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are so-called “forever chemicals” because they don’t easily break down in the environment and can remain indefinitely in air, soil and water, including sources of drinking water. PFAS, in use since the 1940s, number more than 9,000. It’s not accurate to say all PFAS are harmful. There are varying degrees of toxicity. Some have been linked to health risks including cancers, hormone disruption, liver and thyroid problems, interference with vaccine uptake, reproductive harm and abnormal fetal development, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).