Clothing may be subject to rain, water, oil or dirt. Clothing can be made resistant after treatment with repellents. Repellents resist or hold off unwanted substances from rain to oil. The most common used repellents for textiles and leather are based on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), silicones and paraffins.
PFAS chemicals are bad news for the environment and can be found in soil, water, plants and wildlife.
In July 2019, new Dutch norms were established to stop PFAS from accumulating in the environment. This had a big effect on the Dutch construction industry, which could no longer transport contaminated soil or sludge. The PFAS issue has been tied in with the 2019 Dutch nitrogen emission crisis.
PFAS is a group of man-made chemical substances which does not occur naturally in the environment. PFAS can have negative effects on the environment and health. Well-known examples of PFAS are PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonates/perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) and GenX substances.
The exact number of different PFASs produced by humans is not known. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development) has identified more than 4,000 PFASs, but there may be more. There is also a lack of clarity in science as to which substances exactly are PFASs and which are not.
PFASs are water, grease and dirt repellent. They are found in various products, including lubricants, food packaging materials, fire-fighting foam, non-stick coatings on pans, clothing, textiles and even cosmetics.
The substances are released into the environment through emissions from factories that make or use the substances. It can also be released into the environment through the use of PFAS-containing products, such as fire-fighting foams, textile impregnation agents, lubricants, or when PFAS-containing products are disposed of as waste.
The EU has regulated PFOA, its salts and related substances in a wide range of products including textiles under REACH Annex XVII entry 68. Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and its derivatives are not regulated under REACH but under POP Regulation(EU) 2019/1021.
Certain per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals (PFC) are mentioned in the fast manufacturing restricted substances lists (MRSL) from ZDHC Group and in the Oeko-Tex ®standard 100 restriction lists.
There are safe alternative for PFC's which can be found on the so-called SIN list. The SIN (Substitute It Now) List is a database developed by the non-profit organisation International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec).
Silicones are specialty products that are used in hundreds of applications where their special performance is needed. Siliconscanbeusedforforwater,greaseanddirtrepellentsintextiles. ThreetypesofsiliconsarelistedintheREACH candidate list of substances of very high concern., viz. Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4), Decamethylcyclopenta- siloxane (D5) and Dodecamethylcyclohexasiloxane (D6).
Safe alternatives can be found on the SIN (Substitute It Now) List.
Paraffin waxes are the oldest and most economical repellents for fabrics, however the durability of these kind of repellents is poor.
Repellents are added on purpose to improve the characteristics of products.
Make sure that proper repellents are used and avoid the restricted or banned repellents.
For the chemical risk assessment of materials this is essential information from your supply chain.