Soccer merchandise produced by adidas, Nike and Puma ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil has been found to contain hazardous chemicals, according to an investigation by Greenpeace Germany.
Independent laboratories tested 33 items including shoes, goalkeeper gloves and the official “Brazuca” ball for a range of substances and found hazardous chemicals like perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), nonylphenolethoxylates (NPEs), phthalates and dimethylformamide (DMF) in products from all three companies and purchased across three continents.
The investigation found adidas’ Predator soccer shoes contained levels of polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) at 14 times the company’s own restriction limits.
PFCs are persistent pollutants that do not break down when released into the environment. They are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans and have been found to be toxic in laboratory animals, producing reproductive, developmental, and systemic effects in tests, according to the EPA.
Seventeen out of 21 soccer shoes and half of the goalkeeper’s gloves tested were found to contain ionic PFCs such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
After the adidas’ Predator, Nike’s Tiempo shoe contained the highest levels of PFOA at 5,93 micrograms per m2. A pair of adidas Predator gloves also contained levels of the substance in excess of the brand’s own limits. The Brazuca official World Cup ball was found to contain NPEs, a substance that, when released into the environment, degrades to nonylphenol, which is toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms. NPEs were also found in more than two-thirds of shoes and half of the gloves.
Phthalates and dimethylformamide (DMF) were detected in all 21 boots. DMF — used as a solvent in boots manufacturing — may be toxic to reproduction and can be harmful when in contact with skin, according to the EPA.