Antimicrobial, Green Products Cause a Stink

Performance materials that go into apparel have really changed since Charles Macintosh marketed his raincoat. In addition to providing protection from drizzle, new performance apparel is now expected to keep us warm (or cool), non-sweaty, and fresh-smelling.
Andrew D. Maynard

Andrew D. Maynard

Comfortable performance is much appreciated by extreme outdoors people like mountain guide Todd Rutledge, as illustrated in this week’s cover story Materials for Adventure. Outdoor gear makers are also working hard to green their supply chain so that products made for people who appreciate nature won’t actually harm the environment. But recent research and lawsuits suggest that the making and marketing of some of these advances is not completely straightforward. Many new antimicrobial fabrics, for example, are made with silver nanoparticles. But what is the eventual fate of these particles in the environment? Britt Erickson reports for C&EN that researchers have found, perhaps not surprisingly, that some of it washes into our water systems. The findings may mean that some manufacturers should think about reformulating their products so the silver particles stay bound to the fabric. Killing microbes with your wardrobe is apparently all the rage these days. But when The North Face labeled some 70 styles of shoes as preventing bacterial and fungal growth, it found itself on the wrong side of the EPA. According to a Reuters news story, The North Face did not put any pesticide in the shoes, but it is accused of making “unverified health claims.” There was no word on the silver content of the footwear. When apparel companies claim that their products are “green” they may catch the discriminating eye of the Federal Trade Commission, reports Greentech Media. The FTC is putting more oomph behind its new Green Guide for marking environmentally-friendly products. It recently cracked down on products advertising naturally-sourced fabric. The title of this recent press release tells the story: FTC Charges Companies with 'Bamboo-zling' Consumers with False Product Claims. Bamboo-based Textiles, Actually Made of Rayon, Are Not Antimicrobial, Made in an Environmentally Friendly Manner, or Biodegradable.

Author: Melody Bomgardner

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