Intensifying legislation and increased research on the toxicological and persistent nature of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have recently influenced the direction of liquid repellent chemistry use; environmental, social, and sustainability responsibilities are at the crux. Without PFAS chemistry, it is challenging to meet current textile industry liquid repellency requirements, which is a highly desirable property, particularly in outdoor apparel where the technology helps to provide the wearer with essential protection from adverse environmental conditions. Herein, complexities between required functionality, legislation and sustainability within outdoor apparel are discussed, and fundamental technical performance of commercially available long-chain (C8) PFASs, shorter-chain (C6) PFASs, and non-fluorinated repellent chemistries finishes are evaluated comparatively. Non-fluorinated finishes provided no oil repellency, and were clearly inferior in this property to PFAS-finished fabrics that demonstrated good oil-resistance. However, water repellency ratings were similar across the range of all finished fabrics tested, all demonstrating a high level of resistance to wetting, and several non-fluorinated repellent fabrics provide similar water repellency to long-chain (C8) PFAS or shorter-chain (C6) PFAS finished fabrics. The primary repellency function required in outdoor apparel is water repellency, and we would propose that the use of PFAS chemistry for such garments is over-engineering, providing oil repellency that is in excess of user requirements. Accordingly, significant environmental and toxicological benefits could be achieved by switching outdoor apparel to non-fluorinated finishes without a significant reduction in garment water-repellency performance. These conclusions are being supported by further research into the effect of laundering, abrasion and ageing of these fabrics.
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- Department of Fashion and Textiles - Head of Department in Fashion and Textiles
- Institute of Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention - Management Group
- Centre for Functional Materials
- Technical Textiles Research Centre - Director
- School of Arts and Humanities