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is my waterproof breathable jacket harmful to my health?
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Author:  redstart mouser [ February 15th, 2006, 8:01 am ]
Post subject:  is my waterproof breathable jacket harmful to my health?

I heard about this on CBC yesterday, anymore know more?

Harmful Teflon chemical to be eliminated by 2015
January 26, 2006

Several U.S. manufacturers say they’ll eliminate a Teflon chemical called PFOA from consumer products coated with the popular non-stick material.

PFOA, or Perfluorooctanoic acid, is used in the production of common consumer products like non-stick cookware, breathable all-weather clothing, and stain-resistant materials.

PFOA takes years to break down. Research has shown that it's appearing in our blood and in the blood of polar bears in the Arctic -- thousands of kilometres away from the manufacturing plants that produce the chemical.

Eight companies, including giant DuPont Co., announced yesterday that they will stop using the chemical in Teflon products by 2015, the Washington Post reports:

The voluntary pact, which was crafted by the Environmental Protection Agency, will force companies to reduce manufacturing emissions of PFOA by 95 percent by no later than 2010. They will also have to reduce trace amounts of the compound in consumer products by 95 percent during the same period and virtually eliminate them by 2015…

… While not as sweeping as the federal ban on DDT in 1972, yesterday's agreement is expected to have profound implications for public health and the environment. An independent federal scientific advisory board is expected to recommend soon whether the government should classify the chemical as a "likely" or "probable" carcinogen in humans, which could trigger a new set of federal regulations

Author:  peta [ February 15th, 2006, 12:21 pm ]
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Well given that the wealthier you are the longer you live, and that breathable rainware makes you poorer by taking a sizeable chunk of cash out of your pocket, then sure, its harmful to your health.

Author:  Guest [ February 15th, 2006, 6:45 pm ]
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One thing that has been proven to create health issues and a shorter life is STRESS!

Worrying about something like this is STRESS!


Author:  redstart mouser [ February 15th, 2006, 6:53 pm ]
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heh heh heh you guys are right - that guy on cbc got me all worked up. :evil: I suppose I'll start worrying if it gets classed as a definite carcinogen. Just started thinking about all my products that have it - pots, clothes, scotch-guarded couch and carpets etc etc etc......

Author:  Guest [ February 15th, 2006, 7:16 pm ]
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Actually it is a bitch when you find out something is now suspected harmful after using it for so many years and in so many products :o I'm not saying the quote you posted is true or not. After all, there is alwasy two sides to a story.

All I'm saying is we are basically at the mercy of our own technology, not much we can do about it, the harm has already been done. If we worry about every little thing that the "experts" tell us is going to kill us (one month, then another study reverses everything we have been told) we won't have much of a life, will we :roll:

Author:  redstart mouser [ February 16th, 2006, 7:35 am ]
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If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself

Very apropos! If I knew I was going to live this long, I wouldn't have drank diet pop, eaten beef, dyed my hair, drank too much booze, drank not enough booze, come home from work and taken off my goretex jacket and changed out of my stain resistant clothes to cook high fat food in my teflon pots and then sat on my stain resistant couch to watch TV and smoke a cigarette!!!! I am doomed :D

Author:  pknoerr [ February 16th, 2006, 8:47 am ]
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It's funny we live in a "Henny Penny World," where unfortunately our high speed lives, and low financial budgets won't allow us to understand the effects of chemicals on ourselves and our environment before we have effected it. Chemical companies are hired to develop chemicals and materials that have certain engineered properties. Sure there are tests done to determine what chemicals are released in the process, and surely processes are better than they were, but we still way too often find out after the fact what our actions created. The researchers that identify these problems notify the press and to sell papers the issue is sensationalzed and it's off like a wildfire to sell print copy, television news, and internet advertizing space.

Anyways, I agree that it's probably a much to do about nothing.... but then again, it's not a much to do about nothing when it casuses a disease or illness to one you love or to something natural you cherish. Like Donny said, not much we can do about it now.... but what I don't get is that DuPont won't stop making this stuff until 2015.... obviously they still have some profits to create and they beleive the risks are low enough that they will deal with them later rather than risk profits today.


Author:  sethwotten [ February 19th, 2006, 12:27 pm ]
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I was considering purchasing a dry suit or dry top at MEC when I was visiting Toronto a few months ago. I was looking at the Kokatat ones and similar models. Luckily I sought the help of a salesperson who talked me out of it. He had a friend who was a chemist who informed him about this chemical in teflon that is supposedly more persistently toxic than DDT.

A lot of people may say "Sure that's another thing that's bad for me. How am I supposed to carry on my life if I worry about all of these things." The way I see it, we are the consumers and our choices have the ability to create real change based on what we are supporting financially (immoral chemical corporations) and by determining what eventually ends up in our landfills. Although we can't live our lives like paranoid freaks, I think it is very important to make note of these issues.

I have found an alternative to going with the flow and being overly paranoid at the same time that works for me. With the regard to paddling equipment, I am gradually trying to orient my wardrobe and equipment to the more tried and tested gear. Instead of a teflon coated drysuit, I bought a 3mm wetsuit. It doesn't seem like a huge difference, but at least I know I am not supporting Dupont for creating a substance that is more persistently toxic than DDT. It won't keep me dry but it will hopefully keep me from getting hypothermia.

I think that some of the most trustworthy gear for regular canoe trips (rather than specialized gear for whitewater) is the stuff that has been around for generations. I have started to replace some of my falling apart fleece clothing with wool. Although the wool is heavier, it insulates much better than the fleece when it is wet. I will reluctantly admit that there is a friend of mine building a kevlar solo canoe for me as we speak, but I think that my next canoe will be a cedarstrip or a birchbark.

By the way, I am looking for a rainjacket. I would like to find what was considered a regular rain jacket when I was a kid in the 80s. Just a good quality coated nylon with a back vent. I have found these to be more durable and leak proof than gore tex. I had a gore tex jacket that has leaked ever since it was badly soiled a few times (I have tried the drier, iron and gore tex spray). The MEC deluge is perfect, except it is lacking the back vent. I have found stuff at Canadian Tire as well, but it looks like it would fall apart pretty fast. Anyone have any suggestions? Even better, I am open to any natural/traditional material suggestions any of you may have.

Author:  redstart mouser [ February 19th, 2006, 1:02 pm ]
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The MEC deluge is perfect, except it is lacking the back vent.

Hi seth

i have the mec deluge. it is very durable, it has even survived getting caught in my bicycle chain, no tears. It keeps you 100% dry from outside rain, but i find that this jacket has its own eco-system! it gets really hot and so i get soaked anyway with sweat. As a result i will only wear it when it is cold out and i am walking very ...very... slowly (e.g. perfect for walking slowly in the rain with an old dog who sniffs every tree).

my awesome spouse bought me the MEC targa (waterproof-breathable) - then i read the teflon article. Teflon aside, i walk 35 mins each way to & from work and i have found this jacket to be amazing. It is trim, not bulky at all like my older model columbia w-b jacket, and it has great range of motion in the arms. Haven't tried it paddling yet but i think it will be good paired with rain pants.

I am going to keep wearing my w-b jacket, but watch for further research. I would like to know more, e.g. how much teflon is in the jacket compared to what amounts are supposedly harmful ... but i suppose i will think twice before using the spray on waterproofing, or wash in stuff.

Author:  GWA [ February 19th, 2006, 6:09 pm ]
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You have to heat the teflon way over 400ºF for this chemical to be released in any measureable amount. What are you guys doing with your jackets :o

Author:  hooligan [ February 19th, 2006, 8:25 pm ]
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Hey, anyone who doesn'y want their suit can send it to me . . .collect! :D Just ordered a Kokatat but am willing to send it back.
Considering all the harmful crap we paddle in, teflon ranks pretty low.
What about DMHO, the most common and deadliest killer known to man . . and it's everywhere we paddle! All our lakes and rivers are contaminated with it but it is hardly ever in the news.
For more information go here:

Paul :wink:

Author:  wotrock [ February 19th, 2006, 8:31 pm ]
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I try to avoid any rivers taht have high concentrations of DHMO.

Author:  redstart mouser [ February 19th, 2006, 8:45 pm ]
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What are you guys doing with your jackets

i get reeeaaaalllly hot.

interesting tidbit though... i hope it is a lot higher than 400F b/c i cook pizza at 500F on a teflon pan. Then i wash it down with a little DHMO. Maybe a little ETOH. I hope there are no synergistic effects. :P

Author:  GWA [ February 19th, 2006, 9:20 pm ]
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Well, at 400 measureable quantities are released, it takes much higher temps to release harmful amounts. You have measureable amounts of arsenic in your drinking water, doesn't mea it's gonna hurt you. That said, Dupont has handled this very poorly, and it looks like they withheld information.

Maybe a little ETOH.

That should alleviate any concerns you have, at least for a while :wink:

Author:  flyrod [ February 20th, 2006, 9:38 am ]
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wotrock wrote:
I try to avoid any rivers taht have high concentrations of DHMO.

It's used in the manufacture of styrofoam for crying out loud! You're bathing your baby in it! It's gotten into our groundwater!

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