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What are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of at least 10,000 substances used in the manufacture of many consumer products. PFAS are often added to textiles (such as outdoor jackets, work or protective clothing) for water and oil repellent finishing.

Why are PFAS so dangerous?


PFAS can affect the environment during production, use, care and disposal of products. These highly stable “forever chemicals” do not degrade in groundwater and soils. Instead, PFAS can accumulate in living organisms and be ingested by humans through the food chain.


Studies have shown widespread contamination of the blood and breast milk in the global population. PFAS have been linked to effects on the thyroid, hormonal system, liver damage and cancer, among others.

PFAS in Textiles, Apparel, Footwear & Leather - The Challenges

  • Maintaining performance while removing hazards
  • Knowing where PFAS are used within complicated supply chains
  • Keeping up with:
    • Rapidly changing state, federal and international regulations
    • Industry initiatives and innovations
    • Customer RSLs and consumer demands
  • Balancing budget and risk
  • Communicating with customers and suppliers

PFAS Regulations

The PFAS substance group has become the focus of NGOs and legislators. In Europe, the first compounds of this group, PFOS and PFOA, were restricted several years ago. Further individual compounds have been included with more to follow. In the U.S., many bills for state regulations on consumer products have been introduced. On Jan. 1, 2023, the first laws went into effect.

In contrast to the targeted restriction of individual substances as defined in the EU, the entire group of organically bound fluorine (total organic fluorine (TOF)) has been regulated in the U.S. Some state laws target specific chemicals, products or categories, while others cover all products. Compliance requires different testing approaches and creates confusion.

In general, there are 4 types of PFAS regulations/requirements being enacted or proposed:

  • BAN on intentionally added PFAS (e.g., California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, U.S. TSCA, EU, UK)
  • REPORTING/notification (e.g., Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, U.S. TSCA)
  • LABELING/warning (e.g. California, Indiana)
  • Manufacturer CERTIFICATE of compliance (e.g. California, Minnesota)

PFAS in Textiles

  • Apparel, carpets, fabric treatments, rugs, textile furnishings, upholstered furniture and others 
    (California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington)
  • Personal Protective Equipment/PPE
    (California, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, New York, Vermont, Washington)

PFAS in Firefighting Foam

  • Phasing out use
    (U.S. Department of Defense)
  • Banning use and/or creating takeback programs
    (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington)
  • Banning incineration
    (Illinois, New York)

Legal Actions over PFAS

  • State Attorneys general suing over contamination:
    (Alaska, Arisona, Arkansas, Colorado, Deleare, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, Washington DC, Wisconsin)
    • Polluting companies
    • PFAS manufacturers
    • Firefighting foam manufacturers
    • U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)

What to consider next?

  • Substitutes for PFAS performance parameters

  • Inventory management and disposal
    - Product end-of-life phase out

  • Legacy contamination at manufacturing facilities

  • Ongoing supply chain management and product testing

PFAS Compliance Steps

  • Monitor and adapt to changing regulatory landscape with a dedicated, 3rd party consultant
    - Prepare to comply with upcoming notification frameworks
  • Audit products and components - internal DC’s and global suppliers
  • Assess supply chain and chemical inputs
  • Implement restricted chemical lists (RSLs) and PFAS test plan
    - Identify and utilize testing pathways
  • Communicate with consumers and suppliers

Hohenstein's Proactive Approach to PFAS

PFAS Screening

PFAS Testing and Compliance

With no standardized set of analytics, testing depends on the market (e.g., target analysis vs. extractable organic fluorine (EOF) vs. total organic fluorine (TOF)). Choosing the right testing approach and performance analysis must always be in line with the latest scientific knowledge. The wrong approach could cause damage to people, planet, reputations and budgets.

You're not alone. Our experts are dedicated to this issue. In the face of growing regulations and complex analysis, we bring technical expertise and analytical know-how. Our smart testing plans ask the right questions. They assess risks specific to the supply chain and product type. They also consider functionality and performance claims.

PFAS Certification

PFAS Certification with OEKO-TEX®

For sourcing or marketing, an independent OEKO-TEX® certification shows safety from PFAS. OEKO-TEX® bans the use of perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS/PFC) in textiles, leather and footwear for STANDARD 100, LEATHER STANDARD, ORGANIC COTTON and ECO PASSPORT certifications.

Global Chemical Testing Labs

Consistent high standards across all our laboratories.

Beyond Compliance

Ben Mead
Managing Director
Hohenstein Americas