Press Releases

PFAS Chemicals Found in REI Rain Jackets

Rain jackets sold by REI could expose kids and adults to toxic “Forever Chemicals”


Emily DiFrisco

OAKLAND, CA – Today, the nonprofit watchdog Center for Environmental Health (CEH) initiated legal action against Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) after testing showed their waterproof rain jackets for kids and adults could expose individuals to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), two of the most hazardous and well-studied so-called “forever chemicals,” or PFAS. 

PFAS chemicals are widely used in consumer products to impart grease resistance, water resistance, and non-stick properties. Rain jackets from REI are treated with PFAS chemicals to make them waterproof, but the use of these hazardous chemicals unnecessarily exposes people to the harms posed by PFAS and further contaminates the environment with these persistent chemicals.

Exposure to PFOA or PFOS is associated with the development of different cancers and a range of other adverse health effects. CEH’s legal notice claims that the company failed to provide consumers with a clear and reasonable warning about exposure to PFOA and PFOS in rain jackets, as required under California Proposition 65.

“PFOA and PFOS are two of the most studied PFAS chemicals; exposure to  PFOA and PFOS is associated with the development of liver and pancreatic cancer, thyroid problems, reduced immune function, vaccine efficacy, and harm to developing fetuses, among other negative health effects” said Dr. Jimena Díaz Leiva, Science Director at CEH. 

Like all PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS are highly persistent in the environment and break down slowly over time, accumulating in people and wildlife, and causing long-lasting health effects as well as polluting our environment. Given what we know about the negative health effects of PFAS, no company should be adding any PFAS chemicals into their products” said Emily Reder, Senior Manager of Illegal Toxic Threats at CEH.

Last month, REI customers spanning 12 cities in 11 states delivered a petition signed by more than 130,000 people which called on REI to ban all PFAS from its products. Mind the Store, a program of Toxic-Free Future, led the national campaign against REI over the last year. 

For over 30 years, Prop 65 has served as a safeguard for consumers, protecting their right to know if a toxic chemical may be in a product before it is purchased, or serving as incentive for companies to remove concerning chemicals from their products so that they do not have to warn the buyer.

CEH has previously found PFOA chemicals at high concentrations in makeup and cosmetics sold by Estée Lauder, MAC & Clinique.