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Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Firefighter Turnout Gear Textiles Exposed to Abrasion, Elevated Temperature, Laundering, or Weathering

Published

Author(s)

Andrew Maizel, Andre Thompson, Meghanne Tighe, Samuel Escobar Veras, Alix Rodowa, Ryan Falkenstein-Smith, Bruce A. Benner Jr., Kathleen Hoffman, Michelle K. Donnelly, Olivia Hernandez, Nadine Wetzler, Trung Ngu, Jessica Reiner, Benjamin Place, John Kucklick, Kate Rimmer, Rick D. Davis

Abstract

Textiles used in the construction of structural firefighter turnout gear jackets and pants have been found to contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as well as fluoropolymer membranes and treatments containing fluorinated polymers. Additionally, older and used turnout gear have been found to contain greater concentrations of PFAS compared with new gear, though the source of these elevated PFAS concentrations is still under investigation. To determine if the stressing turnout gear textiles encounter during typical use could contribute to the observation of higher PFAS concentrations, this Technical Note reports the concentrations of 51 PFAS in 20 firefighter turnout gear textiles following exposure to abrasion, elevated temperatures, laundering, or weathering by exposure to ultraviolet radiation and elevated humidity. Compared with corresponding concentrations in unstressed textiles, individual and summed PFAS concentrations were higher following exposure to abrasion, elevated temperature, and weathering, but were similar or slightly lower following laundering. For example, the median summed PFAS concentrations among durable water repellent treated outer shell textiles rose from 1,430 µg/kg when new to 3,500 µg/kg with abrasion, 4,420 µg/kg with exposure to elevated temperatures, and 3,540 µg/kg with weathering, while it fell to 963 µg/kg with laundering. These changes in summed PFAS concentrations with stressing largely reflected changes in the concentrations of PFAS that were present in the highest concentration in unstressed turnout gear textiles: 6:2 FTMAC and 6:2 FTOH. Consequently, while physical stressing may contribute to altered PFAS concentrations in stressed compared with unstressed turnout gear textiles, the mechanisms responsible for these changes cannot be authoritatively identified by the targeted analytical approach employed here. For example, the analytical approached used in this report cannot distinguish between PFAS production by the chemical transformation of PFAS that were excluded from the targeted analyte list from enhanced PFAS extraction due to degradation of firefighter gear textiles and their associated fluorinated polymer treatments.
Citation
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 2260
Report Number
2260

Keywords

Abrasion, durable water repellent, firefighter, laundering, moisture barrier, outer shell, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS, stressing, turnout gear, thermal liner, weathering, ultraviolet radiation

Citation

Maizel, A. , Thompson, A. , Tighe, M. , Escobar Veras, S. , Rodowa, A. , Falkenstein-Smith, R. , Benner Jr., B. , Hoffman, K. , Donnelly, M. , Hernandez, O. , Wetzler, N. , Ngu, T. , Reiner, J. , Place, B. , Kucklick, J. , Rimmer, K. and Davis, R. (2024), Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Firefighter Turnout Gear Textiles Exposed to Abrasion, Elevated Temperature, Laundering, or Weathering, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], https://doi.org/10.6028/NIST.TN.2260, https://tsapps.nist.gov/publication/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=956465 (Accessed July 25, 2024)

Issues

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Created January 16, 2024