Emissions of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in a Textile Manufacturing Plant in China and Their Relevance for Workers’ Exposure


The manufacturing of high-performance fabrics requires numerous chemical treatment steps that involve the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) to protect apparel against water, stain, and oil penetration. However, air and wastewater emissions of PFASs generated during this manufacturing are a potential threat to both factory workers and the environment. We investigated the occurrence and distribution of PFASs in wastewater, air, airborne particles, and settled dust in a textile manufacturing plant in China. PFOA and PFDA or their precursor compounds 8:2 FTOH and 10:2 FTOH were the dominant compounds in all environmental media tested, revealing that long-chain PFASs were preferably used for the manufacturing of functional garments. Besides, PFASs were detected along the textile manufacturing chain, indicating that they were used as durable water repellents and as surfactants in, for example, coating agents. The workers’ exposure to FTOHs via air inhalation was up to 5 orders of magnitude higher than the background exposure of the general western population. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study providing information regarding the emission of PFASs during the manufacturing of textiles via various environmental media.
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