Visit any hunting message board, and you’re bound to find a debate about the pros and cons of carbon-activated clothing. Some folks swear by it, others dismiss it as marketing smoke and mirrors. At some point though, grumbling and virtual bickering turned into legal action for Scent-Lok.

Periodically, I receive updates from fellow outdoor writer T.R. Michels. T.R. has led the charge against Scent-Lok and the “science” associated with Scent-Lok and similar companies. here is an excerpt from the latest update:

Several people have asked me why I got involved in this case, especially since I have not sold an article to a major publication (that has advertised for Scent Lok in the past), and because I’ve been told that I’ve cost several Scent Lok Pro Staffers to loose money, due to budget cuts at Scent Lok. Seems I’m being blamed for them losing money, when it was (and is) Scent Lok that has misled the hunting public, and many of those within the hunting industry.

I have done it because, in the end, it is not the people within the hunting industry who are friends with Scent Lok, nor the magazines who used to buy my articles, but who do advertise for Scent Lok, who I actually derive my income from. It is the hunting public, who have been deceived, who have for years looked to me to find out the truth of things, who respect me, who buy my books, read my articles, and attend my seminars – to whom I owe allegiance to. I do it because it is the right thing to do – mo matter how much it costs me financially.

In the end all I have is my name and my reputation – as an honest man.

In light of the fact that they are being subpoenaed – it is unlikely that any major publication will publish anything about Scent Lok or the lawsuit. My Trinity Mountain Outdoors Magazine, is the one publication that has tried to publish the truth of the matter, and tried to keep the public informed of what is currently happening.

6/30/2009

The following interchange is in the court records from May 5, 2009 in the Minnesota Federal District court.

Page 80 – line 15 to page 81- line25

“We bought a $300 Jacket. We cut it apart. I’ve shown opposing counsel this today. This is just a liner. This is the carbon liner we have been talking about. If you pull it apart, that’s carbon , those little black dots. If you hold it up to the light you can see the spacing. (See Amos Turk deposition ) If you want to hang on to that , I’ll explain why that matters.

Dr. Miller said two things in his affidavit that he put in class. He said one. I don’t even think I even have to do testing. I’m an activated carbon expert. I pulled apart their liner. Remember, they use one liner. They put all different camouflage on the outside, but they only use one liner. I pulled it apart. I looked at it. There is spaces between the carbon. Carbon has no magnetic pull. If the odor doesn’t touch the carbon , it can’t stick to the carbon.

He looked at that and he said—and then he put it under a microscope and he counted the little things and he said 27 percent of the surface area has the little carbon dots , meaning that 73 percent has a place where odor would never come in contact with carbon. He said I can tell you as a Ph.D. who works in activated carbon there is no way this can eliminate odor. This thing can’t reduce odor if it doesn’t touch it.

Their own expert, by the way, was deposed by us. Dr. Turk. They had hired Dr. Turk. Dr. Turk is in the activated carbon hall of fame. We didn’t know that but he is. And Tom pulled it apart and showed him , and he said it can’t work. We have that extensively in our opening brief , the whole dialogue. That can’t possibly work. That can’t touch all the odor as it’s coming out.

This argument that we have to test products from before and after, first of all, I don’t think we have to test anything. Second we are testing everything they say is their best product line.

5/10/2009

1. I’ve heard from a fairly reliable source, that some people are considering filing criminal charges against Scent Lok and some of their licensees.

2. According to the transcript on Justia.com, some of the magazine publishers, who advertised Scent Lok in their publications, have been subpoenaed to testify in the “diversity fraud” lawsuit against Scenet Lok – about what they knew about Scent Lok – and the properties of activated carbon.

3. At least on major publication, who told us they were going to do a television show on this whole matter has pulled out of that agreement, because of the subpoenas handed out.

4. This is from the lawyer for the plaintiffs.

T.R.:

Thank you for your email.

To update – the status of litigation (in the Scent Lok case): Cases are on file in eight federal courts; each case seeks to represent a statewide class of consumers from that state. Those cases are in D. Minn.; E.D. Wisc.; S.D. Ind.; N.D. Ill.; D. Maryland; N.D. Fla.; N.D. Cal.; E.D. Wash. Additional cases will be filed on behalf of class members in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Class certification was argued on May 5, 2009 in the D. Minnesota case. The transcript of that hearing, by Local Rule, is available to the public (on PACER, the court’s document cite, or in the public file) 90 days after the transcript is completed. The transcript was completed on May 15, 2009.

In Minnesota, our merits expert reports were due on May 1, 2009, with limited exceptions. The reports of our testing expert, our survey expert, our financial expert, and our game animal expert were served on defendants. Defendants’ expert reports are due July 25, 2009.

Last, we have moved the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation for transfer and coordination of all cases to one court. We expect a ruling transferring all cases to one court in the next few weeks.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

5. This is from the chemist within the clothing industry. I have put the lawyers in contact with this person, who may shed some new, and “unwanted, yet informative”, light on the subject.

I can shed some light on this subject because I am very, very close to it. The founders of one of the leading activated carbon brands are good friends; even though I believe their product mis-leads the public a lot based on hard data I have on file.

Remember even Dr. Schols used activated carbon. There is a lot of “twisted” facts about what odor is. Smell from sweat is caused by bacteria and fungi. Perfume, cat dong, smelly garbish is a type of odor that is great for activated carbon; thus trash bags use it; as does the DoD for absorbing chemical agents, but even the DoD has an SOP for DECON procedures because no suit is full proof.

The only way to gage a fabric or piece of apparel is to test in the labs using globally accepted test methods like AATCC 100; or various ASTM Test Methods.

You should take a new ScentLok shirt and have it tested using AATCC 100. I could probably arrange an independent lab for a quick peak if you want to consider a test on your own.

Send me your number and we can chat.

TR, the field of hygiene, cosmetic claims, antimicrobials, activated carbon etc. is very complicated. If a company is making “cosmetic claims” than that falls under the http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm074201.htm

As an example a company like Cocona which used coconuts (activated carbon too) uses a claim of “absorbs odor” on all of their literature. I personally have a hard time with this because the odor they are referring to in active wear is bacteria or fungi; yet they refer to OAV in their literature which is stuff like perfumes and garbage. Activated carbon can not kills bugs; period. The theory is the pore size of the “activated carbon” will fill up with the bugs and “store them” which is bunk because if only 30% of the fabric has activated carbon there are two problems with Cocona: (1) How does the fabric work if only 30% is in the constriction? And (2) activated carbon can not kill bugs because is has no way to disrupt the DNA or RNA of the microbes so please understand how does the product absorb all the bugs and other OAV scents in the air with only 30% constriction and work?

Do you follow this logic?

In my opinion companies like Scentlok and Cocona are playing games and the EPA should nail them because they do not have EPA registered products (links below for EPA claims) to make antimicrobial claims because they play games with the wording and cross the line between “cosmetic and antimicrobial” and play a legal game.

A cosmetic claim is very tricky because the cosmetic industry plays games all the time with beauty products that claim to reduce all wrinkles; to making you look younger. In the case of Scentlok is it simple. Show me the data. If the company has no AATCC 100 or 147 data or any ASTM data to support killing bugs than it is “cosmetic” and if cosmetic I am willing to bet they have no data to show human odor caused by bugs and the death of these bugs on fabric substrates tested under lab conditions.

You also have the debate of “regenerating” the carbon which is at much higher temperature than a normal dryer and again we are back to how much carbon is in the over all fabric substrate to even work? Much smoke and mirror in my professional opinion.

It the claims are antimicrobial than they fall under http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/regulating/contacts.htm

In summary, many of the anti-microbial textile products available in the market involve applying an organic compound to the textile in the final stages of production. These organic compounds typically target specific microbes – a limited range of bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Like other medicines that carry expiration dates, they tend to oxidize and denature in time and easily wash off fabrics, usually in the first washing. To overcome this problem, some manufacturers add the organic compound to the slurry of a synthetic fiber. However, this process of burying the organic compound inside the synthetic threads typically causes the compound to lose much of its efficacy as the process renders most of the compound unavailable to do its job. Eventually, it too will denature. Amicor is an example of an anti-microbial product in which the active compound is introduced into an acrylic fiber in the slurry stage. This is common in the field of anti-microbial textiles, however, the Amicor product leaves questions regarding it’s over all performance.

For a full update on what is going on with Scent-Lok and the lawsuit, visit this page: Scent Lok Lawsuit

Desert Rat note – I have no bone to pick with Scent-Lok; I can’t afford their stuff anyway. As far as TR goes, I don’t know him personally, but he details his motivations on his site. Regardless, an interesting debate.