Working with scientists at University of Notre Dame and Indiana University, we have discovered that Wolverine Worldwide—maker of shoe brands like Hush Puppies and Keds—continues to add per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to some adults’ and children’s shoes despite knowing the dangers.
Wolverine has been plagued by controversy since PFAS-containing waste from its old Rockford, Michigan tannery was found to have badly contaminated the local community’s water supply. Wolverine is facing hundreds of lawsuits from harmed residents, and the company is in turn suing 3M for selling it the toxic PFAS chemicals without warning of the hazards. The company is spending millions of dollars on remediation and providing bottled water and whole-house water filters to affected families.
The testing indicated the presence of PFAS in four of six shoes: Keds Women's Camp Water-Resistant Boot with Thinsulate™, Hush Puppies Men’s Venture shoes, Hush Puppies Men’s Rainmaker shoes, and Merrell Big Kid’s Jungle Moc Frosty Waterproof shoes. In addition, very high levels were detected in Hush Puppies Weather Protector shoe spray. See the results in the product list below.
- The Hush Puppies Weather Protector Spray, which is labeled "made in USA", contained C6 varieties of PFAS (short-chain), including 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohols and 6:2 fluorotelomer acrylates.
- The four PFAS-positive shoes, which are labeled “made in China,” contained C8 and C10 varieties of PFAS (long-chain), including 8:2 fluorotelomer alcohols and 10:2 fluorotelomer alcohols. These long-chain chemicals have been largely phased out by U.S. manufacturers. These results, however, show U.S. companies continue to use long-chain PFAS in imported products sold to U.S. consumers.
- The actual amount PFAS found on each shoe varied (between 33 ppb and 4200 ppb) depending on the type of shoe and the location tested, which suggests the application of the PFAS is uneven.
||Hush Puppies - Men's Venture, Black Leather|
||Hush Puppies - Rain Maker, Black|
||Hush Puppies - Weather Protector Spray|
||Keds Women's Camp Water-Resistent Boot w/ Thinsulate, Blue Grey|
||Merrel - Big Kid's Jungle Moc Frosty Waterproof, Black|
||Saucony Big Kid's Peregrine Shield 2 A/C Sneaker, Red/Black|
||Sperry TopSider Men’s Striper II Storm Waterproof Chukka, Navy Wool|