The route to fluorine-free repellent coatings in outdoor apparel: Consumer use, maintenance and physiological comfort

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Fluorochemistry is extensively used to impart repellent properties to textiles, and is widely used as protective surfactants in daily life consumables - a functionality we, as consumers, take for granted. PFASs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) impart reliable functionality with high durability and stability, due to the highly stable carbon-fluorine bond. However, fluorinated polymer by-products, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are increasingly being criticised, by studies highlighting their ubiquitous, bio-accumulative nature and suggested toxicology associations. Recent reports by Greenpeace highlight the use of fluorine chemistry specifically within outdoor apparel. Increasing pressure and restrictions, along with calls to eradicate fluorochemistry use by 2020, have generated significant attention into finding equivalent alternative chemistries for textile finishing. The use of fluorine-free repellent chemistry is imminent and this will have a repercussion on post-purchase consumer use.
A survey of 300 outdoor apparel users revealed that water repellency was stressed to be highly important for physiological comfort (82%), but consumers do not see the necessity of additional benefits of oil and soil repellence afforded by fluorochemical finishes. Few consumers were actually aware of the criticism on the industry's chemical use (14% fully aware or quite aware), and the reports published by Greenpeace (15% aware). This imposing environmental issue could be resolved by a re-evaluation of consumer requirements. As the change away from fluorine chemistry continues to greatly impact the textile finishing industry this research offers a novel perspective considering the effect on the consumer.
Additionally the research has investigated approaches to maintain functionality of future repellent chemistries, and understanding on post-purchase how durable water repellent apparel is when used in daily life. In end-use simulation, it has been seen that deterioration of repellency is accelerated in fluorine-free finishes. Developing this novel body of knowledge is key to prospective use of future repellent chemistries and consumer acceptance.
Period14 Jun 2016
Event title20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference
Event typeConference
Conference number20
LocationPortland, United States, OregonShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational