People in low income countries could be exposed to highly toxic gases from the uncontrolled incineration of outdoor clothing made with fluorine-based membranes, says a recently published study, received from Sympatex. Results from the Frankfurt-based independent testing house, Warringtonfire, appear to show that highly-toxic hydrofluoric acid (HF, up to 63 ppm) and hydrochloric acid (HCI, up to 36 ppm) are released at high concentrations when incinerating PTFE (polytetrafluorethylene) membranes. The study notes that the IDLH value (immediately dangerous to life or health) for these gases is set at 30 ppm by EU occupational exposure guidelines (2000/39/EC).
With around half of the textiles collected globally being sent to low-income countries for re-sale, the study claims the most common way to dispose of this clothing in these regions is through both uncontrolled dumping and uncontrolled incineration, which increases the risk of these highly toxic gases coming into contact with humans and the wider environment.
W.L.Gore & Associates has had the combustion behavior of PTFE investigated in a study recently. It claims the study showed that if clothing with a PTFE membrane is disposed of in a typical incineration plant for household waste, no environmentally hazardous substances escape.