PFC & PTFE are together with PFAS the better know forever chemicals. So what are these chemicals, are they dangerous, what purpose do they have, and are there any alternatives? We give you a brief but valuable anwser to these questions
What are PFC and PTFE
Let’s start with the technical answer; PFC is short for Per-Fluoro Carbon and is a collection of substances that only have carbon and fluor particles. Poly-tetrafluoro-ethylene is shortened as PTFE and is better know under its trading name Teflon. PFC and PTFE are often associated with PFAS or per-fluoro-alkul-substances, which is also a collection of chemicals but with a slightly different composition. All these substances are also known as "Forever Chemicals".
How are PFC and PTFE used?
De PFC and PTFE substances are developed for some unique and very useable characteristics like waterproof, water- and dirt repellent, and heat resistance. Characteristics with countless possible applications, which made these kinds of substances irreplaceable for a long time for a modern waterproof and breathable foul weather sailing suit.
Are they harmful to the environment and us?
PFC, PTFE, and PFAS are also known as “Forever Chemicals” as nature can’t degrade these substances. The substances are harmful to organisms while they stay present in nature for a very very long time. For some variations of the Forever Chemicals, it is known that they are (potentially) cancerous. This is why the use of the PFC, C8, is banned for use as DWR since July 2020.
What do we use for the DWR and membrane?
During the production of the "First Edition" foul weather sailing gear, we apply a biobased and PFC-free DWR by BIONIC-FINISH® ECO on the foul weather gear. Which is a biobased and ecological alternative for a PFC DWR. When it is for the water repellency of your gear it is necessary to reapply the DWR, we use the, also biobased and ecological OrganoTex care products.
Instead of using a PTFE-based membrane, we opted for a polyurethane (PU) membrane with a water column of 20.000 mm and breathability of 10.000 g/m2/24h. And let’s be honest here, a PU membrane still isn’t environmentally friendly. However, it is the most environmentally friendly option available partly because it is PTFE-free. Also, there are potentially more possibilities to further lower the environmental impact of the PU membrane and recycle after its initial use.
For this article we consulted the following resources;
1 Pieter van Delft Ph.D. general explanation and understanding of PFC, PTFE en PFAS.