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Are Melamine and Its Derivatives the Alternatives for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance (PFAS) Fabric Treatments in Infant Clothes?

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journal contribution
posted on 28.07.2020 by Guomao Zheng, Amina Salamova
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and melamine (MEL)-based compounds are used in textile finishing as grease, stain, and water repellents. Here, we investigated the occurrence of a large suite of PFAS and MEL compounds in 86 infant clothing items. The ∑MEL concentrations ranged from below the method detection limit to 250,000 ng/g with a median concentration of 78.2 ng/g, significantly higher (p < 0.05) than the ∑PFAS levels (1.22–203 ng/g; median 3.62 ng/g). MEL and its derivatives were most abundant in nylon clothes (median 32,800 ng/g), followed by organic cotton (median 6120 ng/g). In a simulated laundering experiment, the ∑MEL concentrations in clothing decreased on an average by ∼60 and 90% when washed in cool (20 °C) and warm (50 °C) water, respectively. This removal rate increased to 97% when the samples were washed with a detergent. The estimated daily intakes of MEL and PFAS through dermal absorption from nylon clothes were three orders of magnitude higher than those from the non-nylon clothes and decreased by more than half for washed clothes. Our findings demonstrate that MEL-based compounds are abundant in infant clothing and suggest that this group of compounds could be used as potential PFAS replacements in textile finishing.