Understanding PFAS in Textiles: Regulations, Impact, and Taking Action

Oct 13, 2023

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals extensively used in the textile industry. In the past years, it has been criticized. Today some countries are taking action, such as the USA and the European Union, due to its high impact on the environment and human health.

What is PFAS for in the textile industry?

PFAS enhance specific properties, such as breathability, quick-drying, oil, water, alcohol, and dirt repellency, high thermal stability, and durability throughout washing and dry-cleaning processes.

The apparel, footwear, accessories, and bag industries, but primarily the outdoor apparel industry, are concerned due to the role of PFAS in protecting variable environmental conditions.

Why is PFAS getting regulated?

PFAS have a serious impact on the environment and human health. These chemicals don't naturally break down, leading to accumulation in water, soil, and even the human body. It has been proven scientifically that high levels of these substances can increase cancer risk and other adverse health effects.  

There's an ongoing effort in many US states and within the European Union to implement new regulations to prohibit PFAS in textiles.

What are the current and upcoming regulations about PFAS?

PFAS in the European Union is primarily governed by REACH. However, additional regulations are expected to be introduced in the upcoming years.

Several states in the US have begun acting against PFAS, targeting the textile industry.

At a country level, manufacturers (including import) or importers of PFAS or PFAS-containing articles in any year since January 1, 2011, must electronically report information regarding PFAS uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures, and hazards.

Maine S: under the LD1503 Bill, all PFAS should be quantified and declared, with a general ban expected by 2030.

New York: Under the S6291A Bill, PFAS is set to be banned on all apparel by December 2023.

California has one of the most precise and detailed bill: Under the AB652 and AB1817 laws, selling garments containing intentionally added PFAS at 100 parts per million (ppm) will be prohibited by 2025 and 50 ppm by 2027.

Any apparel for severe wet conditions containing PFAS should carry a warning label stating, "Made with PFAS chemicals from 2025 to 2028. It is prohibited by 2028."  

As of July 1, 2023, the California law prohibits the manufacture and sale of products designed to be used by children under 12 years old containing intentionally added PFAS over 100 ppm.

Additionally, from January 1, 2025, clothing, bedding, mattresses, and school supplies marketed to those below 12 years old should restrict asbestos, benzene, or tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate—all classified as potentially harmful to human health by the EPA.

Taking Action

Non-compliance with these regulations can result in financial penalties, harm consumer health, and damage brand reputation - especially for brands promoting sustainability. To avoid such risks, brands must certify their products, require lab testing, and monitor supplier compliance.  

Brands can ensure all their products are lab tested via a solid protocol. Several lab testing companies such as SGS, Bureau Veritas, TUV, and QIMA can support brands in this.

ProductDNA® is a game-changer for brands in collecting lab tests and mapping PFAS suppliers and product compliance throughout the supply chain.

Here's exactly how ProductDNA® can help your brand:

Validate products that have been lab tested: It provides an overview of all products and PO# for which a lab test has been declared by suppliers. It ensures that every product under consideration is backed by a corresponding proof, enhancing credibility and compliance.

Assess risks: ProductDNA® enables your brand to identify products not compliant with regulations in various US states, thus mitigating potential risks.

Communicate accurate product information: By leveraging validated data from lab tests, ProductDNA® ensures that all product labeling is accurate and consistent, fostering consumer trust and confidence.

In essence, ProductDNA® provides an effective strategy for managing lab tests and ensuring compliance, bolstering brand reputation and transparency to consumers. Want to know more about what ProductDNA can do for you? Contact us.  

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) - ECHA (europa.eu)

TSCA Section 8(a)(7) Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements for Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances | US EPA

Summary (maine.gov)

NY State Senate Bill 2021-S6291A (nysenate.gov)

Bill Text: CA AB246 | 2023-2024 | Regular Session | Enrolled | LegiScan

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