What do you need to know about PFAS and FR/AR Fabrics?
14 Sep 2022
Our parent organization, Milliken & Company, announced in February its commitment to eliminating PFAS use in all Milliken Textile fibers and finishes. In a recent Workplace Safety Academy QuickChat, Jeff Strahan, Milliken Textiles’ Director of Research, Compliance and Sustainability, tees up the idea of addressing how PFAS appears in flame-resistant/arc-rated (FR/AR) garments: “We absolutely need to be learning how to replace PFAS where we can: understanding where it’s used, why it’s used, and if it has to be used.”
By now, you’ve probably heard of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as PFAS, substances. You find PFAS across industries, products and uses – some substances, like Teflon – a cookware coating, are more notorious than others. For the textile industry specifically, PFAS chemistries impart the oil- and water-resistant characteristics to many performance-based fabrics and, until recently, it was the only chemistry used by the industry because of its durability.
PFAS chemistries face increased scrutiny and regulatory pressure. More information is coming to light about the human health and environmental impact of certain types of PFAS. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated PFAS regulation is a top agenda item for this administration, and state governments across the U.S. are creating PFAS legislation. In short, PFAS regulation is something all industries, including the textile industry, must address.
Given the regulatory activity surrounding PFAS, it is becoming increasingly clear that the FR/AR textile and garment industries will have to adapt because FR/AR garments are vital – and in many instances, mandatory – to protect workers in hazardous workplace environments. Garment manufacturers, sourcing personnel, safety professionals and end users must be educated on PFAS and how to move forward.
It’s a daunting challenge, to be sure. Westex®: A Milliken Brand, however, with more than 60 years of industry expertise, has seen regulatory and industry shifts, and we have continuously innovated to ensure our customers can rely on our protective fabrics. If you have any questions about the impact of your fabrics based on these new regulations, contact one of our FR experts here.