Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products. Common examples are water-resistant fabrics, stain releasing coatings for fabric, carpets, upholstery, nonstick cookware even popcorn bags, dental floss and some fast-food wrappers.
This family of chemicals is not found naturally in the environment and are a growing concern because they accumulate in the body and are slow to be eliminated from your body. PFAS are very stable compounds, and they resist breaking down in the environment; hence the name “forever chemicals.” Humans are exposed to them through ground water, dust, soil, household products and some clothing finishes.
PFAS are used to make other materials resistant to water, oil and friction which makes them useful in a range of applications, including some flame resistant (FR) clothing that offers water and stain release properties. It is important to note that Benchmark FR does not use any C8 fluorochemicals on our fabrics. While PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States they are still produced in other countries and can be present on imported FR clothing products and fabrics.
Some studies have suggested that exposure to PFAS may be carcinogenic to humans and linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer, liver damage, immune system problems, and endocrine disruption.
FR clothing manufacturers are aware of the potential health risks associated with PFAS and are working to reduce or eliminate the use of these chemicals in their products. Many companies have developed alternatives to PFAS that provide similar performance benefits without the potential health risks. If you are concerned about exposure to PFAS in your FR clothing, you should look for clothing that is made with alternative materials or that is PFAS-free.
Benchmark FR uses both treated flame-resistant chemistry and inherently flame resistant fibers in our US made arc and flame resistant clothing. These materials are PFAS free.