Assessing the potential fire risk of laundered fabrics after contamination with emollients using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and chemometrics

Hall, Sarah W. and Blackburn, Kirsty J. and Ferguson, Leesa and Pugh, Philip J. A. (2021) Assessing the potential fire risk of laundered fabrics after contamination with emollients using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and chemometrics. Science & Justice, 61 (6). pp. 779-788. ISSN 1876-4452

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2021.09.004

Abstract

Since 2010, more than 50 UK fire deaths, have been reported as linked with emollients. This prompted the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to issue advice on their safer use in 2018. The advice was in response to concerns raised by the National Fire Chiefs Council, coroners’ reports, and flammability tests. The test results show a significant reduction in ignition time of fabrics contaminated with paraffin-based and paraffin-free skin care product residues. The MHRA report also included advice on washing clothing and bedding at high temperatures but warned this may not remove all emollient residues. This paper reports on new research on the removal of skin care products from clothing investigated by laundering contaminated 100% cotton fabric at 30, 40 and 60 °C using both biological and non-biological based detergents. As part of the experiment, non-contaminated (blank) napkin samples were included in the wash experiments to assess the possible transfer from fabrics contaminated with emollients to uncontaminated clean fabrics during washing. Washed and dried fabrics were analysed using Attenuated Total Reflectance, Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy and further interpreted via principal component analysis (PCA) and network analysis. Results suggest that the majority of the 6% white soft paraffin-based lotion and paraffin-free cream were removed at all temperatures. Residues of 21% paraffin-based cream (6% light paraffin/15% white soft paraffin) remain, and more residues persist of the 100% paraffin-based ointment (5% light paraffin/95% white soft paraffin) after washing at 30, 40 and 60 °C. The wash experiments show unequivocal transfer of the 100% ointment from the contaminated napkins to clean control napkins placed within washes at 30 °C. Furthermore, residues of the ointment were observed within the machine drum, and washing machine door seal, though this did not cause secondary transfer to subsequent wash experiments. There were no differences observed when using biological versus non-biological detergents, nor when employing a pre-wash treatment in the removal of residues of the 21% cream and 100% ointment. These results suggest that a single application of an emollient when soaked and dried into a fabric is not removed by a single wash at 30, 40 or 60 °C. Instead, the residue remains a persistent potential fire risk and, its high paraffin content presents an additional fire risk via contamination of other fabrics.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Emollients, Fire risk, Residues after washing, Secondary transfer during washing, ATR-FTIR analysis, PCA and novel cluster network analysis
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2021 17:24
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2022 17:59
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/707166

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