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  • Feature Story

Concerns Raised on Use of PFCs in Apparel

March 26, 2014

Recent testing conducted on outdoor apparel found perfluorinated compounds (PFC) in the coatings or waterproof membranes of all items. These findings raise environmental concerns and place increased pressure on governments to limit or ban the use of PFC’s, a family of fluorine-containing chemicals used as a “durable water repellent” (DWR) in the finishing of textiles.

Manufacturers have developed a host of chemicals in this family to repel substances such as oil and water from outdoor clothing, tents, sleeping bags, shoes, carpeting, furniture, and food packaging such as pizza boxes and fast-food containers.

PFC’s commonly found textiles and leathers include:

  • Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) - occurred as residues of fluoropolymer membrane (e.g. PTFE) or fluorotelomers impregnation (e.g. FTOH) used for water repellent treatment
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) - used as water and stain repellent impregnation/finishing

Why It Matters
PFC’s reach the environment either directly as a result of their use in the production process, or indirectly through the use and disposal of products containing PFC’s.  Many are highly persistent and do not readily break down once released into the environment, which has led to their presence across the planet, even in very remote regions.

Ionic PFC’s  have been reported in a wide range of both aquatic and terrestrial biota, due to their ability to bioaccumulate, as well as in human blood and milk in the general population in many countries around the world.

Studies show that PFC’s such as PFOS and PFOA can cause adverse impacts both during development and during adulthood, acting as hormone disruptors, with impacts on the reproductive system and the immune system, as well as being potentially carcinogenic in animal tests.

Comparison of PFC List Against Key EU Regulations

Ionic PFCs

PFC list

EU POP regulation

Norway regulation


    Perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS)

    Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS)

    Perfluoroheptane sulfonate (PFHpS)

    Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)

    Perfluorodecane sulfonate (PFDS)

    Perfluorobutanoate (PFBA)

    Perfluoropentanoate (PFPA)

    Perfluorohexanoate (PFHxA)

    Perfluoroheptanoate (PFHpA)

    Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA)

    Perfluorononanoate (PFNA)

    Perfluorodecanoate (PFDA)

    Perfluoroundecanoate (PFUnA)

    Perfluorododecanoate (PFDoA)

    Perfluorotridecanoate (PFTrA)

    Perfluorotetradecanoate (PFTeA)

    Perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA)

✓ (as PFOS)

    Perfluoro-3,7-dimethyloctanoate (PF-3,7-DMOA)

    7H-Dodecafluoroheptanoate (HPFHpA)

    2H,2H-Perfluorodecanoate (H2PFDA)

    2H,2H,3H,3H-Perfluoroundecanoate (H4PFUnA)

    2-(N-methylperfluoro 1-octanesulfonamido)-ethanol (MeFOSE)

✓ (as PFOS)

    2-(N-ethylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamido)-ethanol (EtFOSE)

✓ (as PFOS)

    N-Methylperfluoro-1-octansulfonamide (MeFOSA)

✓ (as PFOS)

    N-Ethylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamide (EtFOSA)

✓ (as PFOS)

Volatile PFCs

    1H,1H,2H,2H-Perfluorooctylacrylate (6:2 FTA)

    1H,1H,2H,2H-Perfluorodecylacrylate (8:2 FTA)

    1H,1H,2H,2H-Perfluorododecylacrylate (10:2 FTA)

    1H,1H,2H,2H-Perfluoro-1-hexanol (4:2 FTOH)

    1H,1H,2H,2H-Perfluoro-1-octanol (6:2 FTOH)

    1H,1H,2H,2H-Perfluoro-1-decanol (8:2 FTOH)

    1H,1H,2H,2H-Perfluoro-1-dodecanol (10:2 FTOH)

How UL can help
UL’s Hong Kong laboratory has the capability to perform PFC testing across a wide range of consumer products to help ensure compliance with federal and international regulations of chemical use.

For details, please contact us at [email protected].