How should textile and footwear industry respond to more stringent control of PFAS worldwide?

Starting from February 2023, EU imposes restrictions on the use of C9-C14 PFCAs and related substances in products

Starting from February 25th, 2023, the EU’s REACH regulation imposes restrictions on the use of C9-C14 PFCAs and related substances in products, marking a further upgrade of the EU’s control on PFAS. So, what exactly are PFAS? How should products exported to different markets comply with regulatory requirements? Today, let’s dive in.

What are PFAS?

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a class of synthetic chemicals that contain at least one perfluorinated carbon atom. They include a large number of target substances, and PFOS and PFOA, which we are familiar with, are just one of them. PFAS are difficult to break down and degrade during use and in the environment, and their persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity have attracted global attention. The EU authorities estimate that unless action is taken, about 4.4 million tons of PFAS will be released into the environment in the next 30 years.

Uses of PFAS

PFAS have excellent properties such as water resistance, oil resistance, heat resistance, and antistatic properties, making them widely used in the textile, leather and clothing, electronics, fire fighting, and food processing industries. They also have the characteristics and functions of surfactants and can be used as water and oil degreasers.

Global regulations on PFAS​


Impact on Textile and Footwear Industries

Strengthening of environmental regulations:

Global control of PFAS is gradually being upgraded. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2021-2024 PFAS Strategic Roadmap is aimed at accelerating the cleanup of PFAS contamination, and the EU Chemicals Agency (ECHA) publicized the PFAS restriction draft in 2023, involving more than 10,000 substances.

Changes in consumer demand:

With the increasing concern of consumers about the environment and health, more and more consumers will choose to purchase PFAS-free products. The textile and footwear industries need to adapt to this change and provide more environmentally friendly and healthy products.

Increase in supply chain pressure:

Many brands and retailers have begun to manage PFAS in their supply chains, requiring suppliers to provide PFAS-free products or alternative technologies. The textile and footwear industries need to adapt to this pressure and provide products that meet market demand.

How Should the Textile and Footwear Industries Respond?

The textile and footwear industries  are among the industries most affected by the upgrade of PFAS control.

Businesses need to strengthen their control over the supply chain to ensure that the materials and chemicals they use comply with global PFAS control standards, while also strengthening waste management and disposal.

Enterprises need to find PFAS alternatives, such as fluorine-free waterproofing technology, natural fiber materials, bio-based materials, supercritical CO2 processes, and nanotechnology, to replace the use of PFAS in products. They should also require suppliers to provide test reports from third-party laboratories to demonstrate compliance with regulations.

PFI Solution

PFI can provide testing services to detect PFAS according to the standards of different countries. Relevant test standards are:

ISO 23702-1:2018 | IULTCS/IUC 39-1

Leather — Organic fluorine — Part 1: Determination of the non-volatile compound content by extraction method using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry detector (LC-MS/MS)

EN 17681-1:2022

Textiles and textile products – Organic fluorine – Part 1: Determination of non-volatile compounds by extraction method using liquid chromatography

EN 17681-2:2022

Textiles and textile products – Organic fluorine – Part 2: Determination of volatile compounds by extraction method using gas chromatography

BS ISO 25101:2009

Water quality. Determination of perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA). Method for unfiltered samples using solid phase extraction and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry

ASTM D7968-17a

Standard Test Method for Determination of Polyfluorinated Compounds in Soil by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS)

CEN/TS 15968:2010

Determination of extractable perfluorooctanesulphonate (PFOS) in coated and impregnated solid articles, liquids and fire fighting foams – Method for sampling, extraction and analysis by LC-qMS or LC-tandem/MS

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