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.

About Fidra
© Sara Spillett

Fidra shines a light on environmental issues, working with the public, industry and governments to deliver pragmatic, evidence-based solutions for a healthy environment and sustainable societies.


Our Vision

The island of Fidra, Scotland

Sustainable societies; healthy environment.


Our Mission

Use the best available science to identify and understand environmental issues, developing pragmatic and proportionate responses through collaboration and dialogue with the public, industry and government.


Our Values

We are scientific, pragmatic and collaborative.


Our Projects

We are reducing plastic pollution from pellets, packaging and pitches. Our Cotton Bud Project 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. And we are combating the chemical contamination of our environment by hormone disruptors, long-lasting chemicals and harmful substances such as bisphenols and PFAS. Find out more about our projects.

Our History

Founded by Dr Becky Gait, Fidra is named after an island and wildlife haven, made famous by writer of Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Initially Becky brought together a group of parents and friends with a shared a passion for the environment and expertise in science, public health, law and finance.  Living by the sea they were naturally concerned about plastic litter on local beaches and began to focus on the then little-known problem of nurdles – tiny pellets, used in the manufacture of plastic products, which wash up on our shores.

Becky then formally established Fidra and the group launched The Great Nurdle Hunt – to document nurdle pollution and engage with industry and others.  Dr Abi Entwistle and Michelle Sutherland were appointed as Trustees together with Becky and her husband, David Gait.

Fidra harnessed the concerns of people living around the Firth of Forth, highlighting the issue across Scotland and then further afield, and used an evidence-based approach to encourage and enable plastics producers, users, transporters and trade associations to introduce best practice in plastic pellet management.

Work on The Cotton Bud Project began in 2013 when Fidra began its successful engagement of the industry leader and other retailers who moved to paper sticks.

Whilst plastics pollution remains a key focus, we have grown our capacity and expanded our remit and are now actively working on salmon farming and chemical pollution. We are continually scoping new projects on emerging issues, working with the public, industry and governments to deliver pragmatic, evidence-based solutions.

Fidra uses scientific evidence and research best practice to achieve positive environmental change and depends upon the talent and dedication of its team of highly skilled staff to scope and deliver its projects.

The Directors and the Trustees play an instrumental role in growing and shaping the organisation and they are closely and actively involved in determining its strategic direction.

We are not a grant giving organisation, and regret that we are unable to respond to unsolicited requests for funding.

© Nick Archer