PFAS and AR / FR Clothing: 3 Things to Know

PFAS is a term you may have heard in the news recently. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes PFAS as “a series of man-made chemical compounds that persist in the environment for long periods of time.” Are these “forever chemicals” present in arc-rated and flame resistant (AR / FR) clothing? Are people who wear AR / FR clothing at risk for higher levels of exposure?

Scott Margolin, Vice President of Technical, breaks down three important points about PFAS and protective clothing:


PFAS are a significant concern, but not when it comes to AR / FR clothing. Keep these three facts in mind:

  1. PFAS have never been heavily used in AR / FR clothing, and their use was almost always limited to durable water repellent finish (DWR) historically applied to some AR / FR outerwear.
  2. Of those rare instances where PFAS were used, AR / FR manufacturers have already eliminated – or are in final stages of eliminating – PFAS from their formulations. Almost no AR / FR clothing you buy today has PFAS in it.
  3. If you have garments from years ago that have PFAS on them, it is highly unlikely they pose a direct exposure danger to you. This is because PFAS is not known to be absorbed through contact with our skin. Rather, the concern with PFAS is with ingestion, which can occur indirectly through the escape of the chemicals into the environment around us during processes like application or laundering – entering our bodies, along with PFAS from countless other sources, through contaminated air, food, and water.

Fortunately, with increased national attention on PFAS, usage of PFAS may decrease as other industries reduce or eliminate them from supply chains – like the protective clothing industry has. And, the EPA recently announced it is working to limit exposure to PFAS in public drinking water, which will reduce PFAS exposure at one of its primary sources.

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