“An EU-funded project has concluded that high water and oil repellency are not necessary for most textiles applications. And, it says, use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) should be limited to applications for which technical performance is ‘unique and critical’.

The MIDWOR-Life project – launched in 2015 to analyse chemicals used to provide water and oil repellency in textiles – found that although fluorine-free products can achieve comparable water repellency to fluorocarbons, only fluorinated compounds provide oil repellency.

But, it says, fluorine-free products had a significantly reduced environmental footprint compared with conventional fluorinated technology.

Stakeholders at a conference held in Brussels in June to mark the end of the project, discussed the need to define critical applications where oil repellency is essential, in order to include them as derogations within a possible restriction, to be proposed by Norway, on the short-chain fluorocarbon PFHxS.

The event brought together 36 stakeholders in the field of substitution of per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFCs) in the textile industry. They came from ten European countries.

A risk assessment of occupational health, carried out for the project, showed that long-chain fluorocarbons present a moderate risk to workers, while short-chain fluorocarbons have a mitigated impact to workers’ safety and exposure is highly dependent on industrial settings.

MIDWOR-Life project manager, Josep Casamada, told Chemical Watch after the conference that the goal of reducing the environmental impact of textiles is possible if products are not ‘over-designed by using water repellency’…

At the conference, Dunja Drmac, sustainability officer for the European textiles trade association Euratex, highlighted the need for the textiles industry to be informed about the alternatives to PFAS in order to avoid regrettable substitution and for regulatory bodies to be flexible in cases where no alternatives are available….

The MIDWOR-Life project has published several technical papers on its website and also has an online tool to facilitate companies’ self-assessment of the environmental impact of different DWORs.”

Read the full article by Tammy Lovell