New Mexico company says wax runoff bad for environment
Skiers and snowboarders know that nothing ensures a smooth powder day like a fresh coat of wax on the bottom of boards of choice. But Greg Barker, CEO of Enviro Mountain Sports, said that most commercial waxes can be hazardous to your health.
According to a press release sent out by Enviro Mountain Sports on Nov. 30 of last year, most commercial ski and snowboard waxes are made from chemicals based on petroleum products that can potentially have very serious health consequences. These chemicals include fluorocarbons, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, also known as Teflon), and perfluorocarbons. Barker said that he believes that his company’s waxes, which are based on vegetable oil products grown in the United States, are not only less harmful but also work just as well as conventional waxes.
“Our point is if there are products out there that benefit the American farmer and aren’t petrochemical based, why not use them?” Barker said.
According to the press release, Enviro Mountain Sports believes that potentially 2.182 million pounds of toxic chemicals from ski & snowboard wax could be put into the environment around ski resorts this season. While Barker admits that this may be a rough estimate, he said that the environmental and health impact from most waxes is substantial.
“I can’t say it’s easy to get a hard number on how much goes in, but if any gets in that’s not okay,” he said.
Mark Salley, Communications Director for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, believes that the dangers from wax run off are minimal.
“There are very many higher priority concerns,” Salley said. “Speaking for the Department of Public Health and Environment, ski wax would be a very low concern for us.”
According to the Web site for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit consumer research organization based in Washington D.C., in January of 2006 a research group working with the Environmental Protection Agency released a reportsaying the Teflon derivative Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) was a “likely” human carcinogen. Aaron Phipps, a hard goods specialist for Swix, one of the major ski wax manufacturers in the United States, is well aware of these concerns but does not believe that ordinary wax users are at risk.
“The biggest concern is when the wax is brushed,” Phipps said. “Little particles fly up into the air and can build up in your lungs. That’s why (ski shops) are careful about using respirators.”
A different report from the EWG states that Teflon emits toxic particles starting at 464