An Outdoor Aging Study to Investigate the Release of Per- And Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) from Functional Textiles
By Steffen Schellenberger, Ioannis Liagkouridis, Raed Awad, Stuart Khan, Merle Plassmann, Gregory Peters, Jonathan P. Benskin, and Ian T. Cousins
February 28, 2022
The emission of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from functional textiles was investigated via an outdoor weathering experiment in Sydney, Australia. Polyamide (PA) textile fabrics treated with different water-repellent, side-chain fluorinated polymers (SFPs) were exposed on a rooftop to multiple natural stressors, including direct sunlight, precipitation, wind, and heat for 6-months. After weathering, additional stress was applied to the fabrics through abrasion and washing. Textile characterization using a multiplatform analytical approach revealed loss of both PFAS-containing textile fragments (e.g., microfibers) as well as formation and loss of low molecular weight PFAS, both of which occurred throughout weathering. These changes were accompanied by a loss of color and water repellency of the textile. The potential formation of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) from mobile residuals was quantified by oxidative conversion of extracts from unweathered textiles. Each SFP-textile finish emitted a distinct PFAA pattern following weathering, and in some cases the concentrations exceeded regulatory limits for textiles. In addition to transformation of residual low molecular weight PFAA-precursors, release of polymeric PFAS from degradation and loss of textile fibers/particles contributed to overall PFAS emissions during weathering.
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