What is Heat and Flame Protective Wear?
Puvab AB has extensive experience in heat and flame protection, and have worked with protective wear against burns for more than 15 years. We use primarily inherent heat and flame protection (in approx. 85% of all products), which means that the heat and flame protection is embedded in the fibre. The remaining part (approx. 15%) is a nitrogen phosphorus compound named Proban or Pyrovatex. This flame retardant is also permanent and doesn’t wash out.
Today, there are about 300 different flame retardants, and some of them are dangerous to use. Questions sometimes arise about whether it is dangerous to use chemical flame retardants such as Proban or Pyrovatex, and it is not!
Scientific tests have not been able to identify any such risks. However, there are other dangerous flame retardants. Brominated flame retardants are very dangerous and are often mistaken for the above mentioned flame retardants. These flame retardants are used in computers and electronic devices, but do not bind to fabric, which means that they would wash out in the first wash, if used in garments.
These substances have been banned in Sweden for a long time, and there is no reason to worry if you buy garments from serious producers. To learn more about flame retardants, you can read more in the text below, written by Swerea IVF (The Department of Fibre and Polymer Technology). This will give you more insight into different types of flame retardants.
Flame Retardant Chemicals in Textile Manufacturing
The Department of Fibre and Polymer Technology (Swerea IVF)
Stefan Posner, Head of Department – Textiles
In the West, the demand for functional materials within the textile industry has increased significantly, particularly through different countries’ legislation regarding fire safety in public and also private interior environments. As many other functional chemicals, flame retardant chemicals do not always have the optimal environmental qualities, such as low bioaccumulation and biodegradability in relation to the wanted flame protective qualities. New solutions with a good combination of functionality and environmental demands are constantly being developed through product development and international environmental work.
Heat and Flame Protective Fabrics
Heat and flame protective products have a broad range of use for both civilian and military purposes. The following areas use flame retardant treatment to meet the demands for health and safety in the work place from the authorities regarding civilian materials:
- interior fabrics, such as in furniture and curtains
- decor in public environment
- interior fabrics in public transport
- camouflage materials
- interior fabrics
The group of fibre materials with inherent flame retardant includes:
Trevira CS or FR - Polyester
Nomex - Aramid
Kevlar - Aramid
Viscose FR - Cellulose
PPAN Modacrylic - Modified Acrylic
Fibres treated with flame retardant chemicals are:
to some extent synthetic fibre
Flame proofing treatment can be permanent, which means water and/or dry cleaning proof or non-permanent. Permanent treatments include organic treatments.
Areas of use
The wash proof, organic phosphorus compounds are used for products made from cellulose fibres and mixtures of cellulose fibre and synthetic fibre with demands for heat and flame protection, such as
- Protective wear
- Interior fabrics
- Uniform and garments for air craft crews
Zirpro treatment is used for wool material for use in for example
- Protective wear for fire fighters
- Interior fabrics with demands for fire protection
- Uniform and garments for air craft crews
The flame retardants that have the worst impact on the environment are based on bromate and to a certain extent also chlorine. These are not used in Swedish fabrics. The substances used in Sweden when preparing cotton fabric are nitrogen phosphorus compounds, which are completely different from the bromate and chlorine based flame retardants often mentioned in this context.
Allergy or mechanical irritation?
Sometimes, reactions similar to an allergic reaction can occur when fabrics come in contact with the skin. According to medical experts, these reactions may have many causes. The reactions are individual and knowledge of the individual’s medical status is needed to establish the right diagnosis. Studies from the Swedish National Board of Occupational Safety and Health from 1996 show that this kind of problem can occur in shop staff when handling clothes, but no connection to any specific fabric treatment or chemical could be found in the studied cases. However, it is a known fact that tight fitting clothes in combination with perspiration and increased body temperature at the pressure point, called mechanical irritation, can sometimes cause conditions that could be mistaken for skin allergies.