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Denmark to ban clothing and shoes containing toxic 'forever chemicals'

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances — or PFAS — don't degrade in the environment and are linked to a broad range of health issues.
Clothes hanging on a rack
Posted at 3:44 PM, May 01, 2024

Denmark is joining the growing list of countries to limit the use of so-called "forever chemicals" in consumer goods.

The Danish government unveiled a plan that would outlaw all clothing, shoes, and waterproofing agents containing per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances — or PFAS. These chemicals are used in a variety of products like non-stick cookware and waterproof clothing but have been linked to various health and environmental problems because they don't break down naturally and can accumulate in the human body over time.

PFAS have been detected in people's blood, and studies have suggested 98% of people have PFAS somewhere in their body. They've also been found in air, soil and drinking water.

A label states that these pans do not contain PFAS: perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

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"A national ban on the import and sale of clothes, shoes and impregnation agents with PFAS is an important step on the way to limiting emissions and will have a real environmental effect in Denmark," Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke said in a statement. "Furthermore, we are sending a strong signal to the rest of the world that we must phase out these substances where possible."

The nationwide ban is expected to go into effect on July 1 of next year. However, the government will give businesses one year to transition to PFAS-free alternatives before the executive order is implemented.

Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands introduced a proposal last year that would ban PFAS across the entirety of the European Union.