PFAS-coated clothes that are thrown away will often end up either incinerated or in landfill. Unless incinerated at very high temperatures (>1000oC), fluorinated polymers could release more harmful PFAS during burning. PFAS of environmental concern have also been found in landfill leachate. PFAS is found in treated waste water from industrial and domestic sources and has been found in both rivers and groundwater. Conventional drinking water processes will not remove PFAS.Small quantities of PFAS will be removed during wash and wear of products containing PFAS. This includes fluorinated polymers used on stain-resistant coatings, and non-polymers that remain on clothes after production (Lassen et al. 2015).Non-polymer PFAS can build up in blood protein of animals, and is not always removed quickly. This means that predators eating PFAS-contaminated food will have higher levels in their bloodstream, and concentrations can increase up the food chain. Studies suggest that build up of PFAS is similar to those of other Persistent Organic Pollutants such as DDT.PFAS are estimated to be settling in arctic regions at rates of tens to hundreds of kilograms per year (25-850kg per year), depending on the specific PFAS chemical in question. Certain PFAS are released as gases to the environment and are blown a long way by wind and air currents in the atmosphere,. These gas PFAS will over time degrade to more persistent chemicals like PFOS and PFOA. This may be one reason why PFAS of environmental concern have been found in remote regions such as the Arctic as well as near PFAS production sitesPFAS including PFOS and PFOA have been found in air samples around Europe. The chemicals are found in small quantities, but appear in almost all samples tested. PFAS enters the atmosphere both from factories and the air inside our homes. Non-polymer PFAS are used in the production of fluorinated polymers. The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes generally releases these PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. They are very hard to remove during water treatment. Workers in textiles factories are some of the population most exposed to these potentially harmful chemicals.

There are estimated to be over 5 trillion plastic pieces afloat at sea*
Around 35,500 tonnes of microplastics are estimated to be floating in our ocean*
Many organisms ingest small plastic particles. This may have consequences higher up the food chain*
Aquaculture is projected to supply over 60% of fish destined for human consumption by 2030*
Sewage is the greatest contributor to poor water quality in populated coastal and marine environments*
Atlantic salmon accounts for 90% of all economic impact of Scottish aquaculture production*
Man-made PFAS chemicals have been detected in rivers, oceans, drinking waters, house dust, wildlife and humans*
New study adds obesity to the list of human health concerns linked to man-made PFAS chemicals, now ubiquitous in our environment*
Chemicals used in the manufacture of stain-proof clothing finishes have now been detected at toxic doses in Polar Bears*
© Scott Currie
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Fidra is an environmental charity working to reduce plastic waste and chemical pollution in our seas, on our beaches and in the wider environment. Fidra shines a light on environmental issues, working with the public, industry and governments to deliver solutions which support sustainable societies and healthy ecosystems. We use the best available science to identify and understand environmental issues, developing pragmatic solutions through inclusive dialogue.

Fidra’s projects

We are reducing plastic pollution from pellets, packaging and pitches. Our work led retailers and manufacturers to change cotton bud sticks from plastic to paper, one of the first successful single-use plastic actions in the UK. Our Best Fishes project aims to minimise Scottish salmon farming’s environmental impacts, from feed to disease. We are combating the harmful chemical contamination of our environment from consumer products, industrial processes and waste.  We are evidence-based, pragmatic and collaborative.

Fidra is a Scottish registered charity and SCIO no.SC043895

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Our Projects

Nurdle hunt

Fidra works with policy makers, industry and the public to end industrial plastic pellet or ‘nurdle’ pollution.


Cotton buds

Despite having been recognised as a problem for at least 20 years, plastic cotton buds are a continuing pollution issue. These small plastic stems are consistently in the top ten items found on beaches in the UK and globally.

Cotton Buds

Plastic Polution

The Fidra Trustees have supported a novel programme of work at Fauna & Flora International (FFI) since 2012, which recognises the potential impact of microplastic pollution on marine biodiversity.


Best Fishes

Did you know Scottish salmon is raised on farms in the western highlands and islands? Fidra is developing an information portal to bring together pertinent facts about this increasingly popular food, where it comes from and how it’s farmed.

Best Fishes

PFAS are industrial chemicals of major environmental concern. They are used in a wide range of everyday products, including use as water and oil repellents in food packaging, and can now be found across the remotest regions of the globe.


Did you know that synthetic turf pitches can be a source of microplastic pollution? Fidra is promoting simple best practice measures to reduce loss of rubber crumb into the environment, with actions for pitch designers, owners and users.

Artificial Pitches

Food Packaging Project

Much of our takeaway food and drink packaging can have devastating impacts on environment. They are difficult to recycle and many of the materials and chemicals in them don’t breakdown if they end up as litter.



Bisphenols are synthetic chemicals used in a variety of products such as plastics and receipts. There is increasing evidence that bisphenols are harming the environment and could be impacting human health by affecting our hormones.


Harmful industrial chemicals are being found in people, wildlife and the environment. This chemical contamination comes from manufacturing, waste and directly from the products…

Chemical Pollution

What do a sofa, a spatula and a seabird have in common? Learn more about the wide-ranging health and environmental impacts of chemical flame retardants.

Flame Retardants

© Nick Archer