A three-year, EU life-cycle assessment study to evaluate alternatives to fluorine-based durable water- and oil-repellents (DWOR) for textiles has concluded that fluorinated formulations have a negative environmental impact “10 to 40 times larger” than fluorine-free alternatives.
Ecotextile News reported that the study also confirmed that fluorine-free water repellent coatings can do the same job as fluorine-based coatings, but these alternatives don’t perform at the same level as traditional C8 and C6 fluorine-based finishes in regards to oil repellency.
The article says chemists in the textile sector will not be surprised by the findings. What the study highlights for all scientists is that replacement per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) may be just as bio-accumulative as original (legacy) PFASs that are being phased out and are not necessarily safer.
One industry expert in the fluorochemistry sector told Ecotextile News that short-chain PFHxA—a degradation product from the manufacture of intermediates used to produce some short-chain fluorinated polymers (i.e., C6)—could be restricted by the EU as early as 2021 and may be phased out by 2025.
These findings may have significant implications for EU policies and for product substitution decisions around the globe.