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Report finds Wolverine Worldwide still uses PFAS in some products

The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI
From Google map provided by Wolverine Worldwide
The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI

Researchers from the University of Michigan, Notre Dame University and Indiana University released a report that found West Michigan shoe-maker Wolverine Worldwide is still using pollutants known as PFAS in its products.

Wolverine has been getting a lot of press the past couple years, because it is a large source of PFAS contamination throughout northern Kent County.

A report published this week shows that the company is still using different types of PFAS in some of its products.

Jeff Gearhart, the Research Director at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, says the company still uses high amounts of PFAS in some products.

“Four of the six shoe products we tested do contain PFAS. All the shoe products were manufactured in China,” Gearhart said.

Representatives from Wolverine released a statement that says the company was not aware of the report before it was published this week. Wolverine is looking into the methodolgy of the study.  

Gearhart says that despite Wolverine’s promise to stop using PFAS at its factory in Rockford, the products it makes overseas still get imported to the U.S.

He says people should be aware of what products they use that contain PFAS.

“We think it’s important for consumers and the public to demand from companies that they stop using them,” he said.

Gearhart pointed to companies like Lowes and Home Depot as examples of companies who have stopped using, promoting and selling chemicals it knows to be hazardous.

Chemicals in the PFAS family have been linked to negative health outcomes like kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol and thyroid disease.

This post has been updated to include a response from Wolverine Worldwide. 

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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