Research reveals impact of waterproof clothing on the environment

Research by academics in the School of Design have found that rain-repelling fluorochemicals used in waterproofing clothing are unnecessary and environmentally unfriendly.

The research conducted by the School of Design in collaboration with the Swedish School of Textiles at the University of Boras in Stokholm, shows effective alternatives to harmful fluorochemicals used in durable water repellents (DWRs) for waterproof clothing are readily available.

As part of the research, the team developed an innovative new testing method and applied different waterproof finishes to test fabric before measuring resistance to a wide range of liquids from water to red wine, olive oil to synethic blood and olive oil to cough medicine.
The  textile and clothing industry uses a quarter of all chemicals produced globally and is known to be a large contributor to environmental pollution. Concerns have been raised about the effect that waterproofing fluorochemicals has on the environment during their production, as well as during the life of a garment – through washing and microfibre shedding – as well as when it is disposed of.