PFAS-coated clothes that are thrown away will often end up either incinerated or in landfill. Unless incinerated at very high temperatures (>1000oC), fluorinated polymers could release more harmful PFAS during burning. PFAS of environmental concern have also been found in landfill leachate. PFAS is found in treated waste water from industrial and domestic sources and has been found in both rivers and groundwater. Conventional drinking water processes will not remove PFAS.Small quantities of PFAS will be removed during wash and wear of products containing PFAS. This includes fluorinated polymers used on stain-resistant coatings, and non-polymers that remain on clothes after production (Lassen et al. 2015).Non-polymer PFAS can build up in blood protein of animals, and is not always removed quickly. This means that predators eating PFAS-contaminated food will have higher levels in their bloodstream, and concentrations can increase up the food chain. Studies suggest that build up of PFAS is similar to those of other Persistent Organic Pollutants such as DDT.PFAS are estimated to be settling in arctic regions at rates of tens to hundreds of kilograms per year (25-850kg per year), depending on the specific PFAS chemical in question. Certain PFAS are released as gases to the environment and are blown a long way by wind and air currents in the atmosphere,. These gas PFAS will over time degrade to more persistent chemicals like PFOS and PFOA. This may be one reason why PFAS of environmental concern have been found in remote regions such as the Arctic as well as near PFAS production sitesPFAS including PFOS and PFOA have been found in air samples around Europe. The chemicals are found in small quantities, but appear in almost all samples tested. PFAS enters the atmosphere both from factories and the air inside our homes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17554424 Non-polymer PFAS are used in the production of fluorinated polymers. The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes generally releases these PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. They are very hard to remove during water treatment. Workers in textiles factories are some of the population most exposed to these potentially harmful chemicals.

References and thanks...
© Kit Carruthers

References

 

There are estimated to be over 5 trillion plastic pieces afloat at sea (Eriksen, M., et al. 2014).

Around 35,500 tonnes of microplastics are estimated to be floating in our ocean (Eriksen, M., et al. 2014).

Many organisms ingest small plastic particles. This may have consequences higher up the food chain (Cole, 2013; Lusher et al., 2013).

Aquaculture is projected to supply over 60% of fish destined for human consumption by 2030 (World Bank, 2013).

Sewage is the greatest contributor to poor water quality in populated coastal and marine environments (UN WWAP, 2014).

Atlantic salmon accounts for 90% of all economic impact of Scottish aquaculture production (Westbrook, 2017).

Man-made PFAS chemicals have been detected in rivers, oceans, drinking waters, house dust, wildlife and humans [Pan et al., 2011; Björklund et al., 2009; Giesy and Kannan, 2002; Calafat et al. 2007].

New study adds obesity to the list of human health concerns linked to man-made PFAS chemicals, now ubiquitous in our environment [Liu et al., 2018].

Chemicals used in the manufacture of stain-proof clothing finishes have now been detected at toxic doses in Polar Bears [Eggers et al., 2015].

Thank you to….

 

Website design

 

Glowfish Creative

 

Photographs

 

Nick Archer

Wolfram Burner

Kit Carruthers

Scott Curvie

Joe Gordon

Lewis Houghton

Kath Polley at Geren Argyll Design

Michael Spencer

Sara Spillett

Phillippa Willitts

Witchcreations

Background photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

© Lewis Houghton