Putting the Genie Back in the Bottle: Scotchgard™

Wickersham's Conscience

Scotchguard™ advertisement, c. 1961 Scotchgard™ advertisement, c. 1961

Scotchgard™ is a 3M product that makes fabrics stain resistant and somewhat water repellent. 3M completely reformulated Scotchgard in May 2000. It turned out that the chemicals used in earlier versions of  Scotchgard were dangerous and persisted in the environment for a long time.

Those chemicals were perfluorinated compounds (“PFASs”), including perfluorooctane sulfate (“PFOS”) and perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”). It’s increasingly clear that these PFOSs are nasty stuff. Even in Scott Pruitt’s world, the EPA says:

Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animal studies. The most consistent findings from human epidemiology studies are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to:

• infant birth weights,
• effects on the immune system,
• cancer (for PFOA), and
• thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).


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