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Original article

Textile Research Journal


2016, Vol. 86(16) 1738–1749

Release behavior and kinetic evaluation ! The Author(s) 2015


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of formaldehyde from cotton clothing DOI: 10.1177/0040517515606356
trj.sagepub.com
fabrics finished with DMDHEU-based
durable press agents in water and
synthetic sweat solution

Bing Li1, Yongchun Dong1,2, Peng Wang1 and Guixin Cui1,3

Abstract
The durable press-finished cotton fabrics were prepared with dimethylol dihydroxy ethylene urea (DMDHEU) and
methylated DMDHEU, and tested for formaldehyde release in distilled water or synthetic sweat at pH 5 or 8 to simulate
the extraction of formaldehyde by sweat under similar wearing conditions. The release mechanism of formaldehyde was
studied and compared using three diffusion kinetic models. The effect of release conditions and finishing process on the
formaldehyde release was also investigated. The results indicated that the release process of formaldehyde from the
finished fabric includes a burst release phase and a slow release phase, which is explained by five different sources. The
formaldehyde release mechanism followed the Fickian mode, and could be described by Higuchi, Double phases and
Korsmeyer–Peppas kinetic equations, respectively. Higher formaldehyde release was found at pH 8 than that at pH 5.
Formaldehyde showed a lower release rate in synthetic sweat solution than that in water under the same conditions.
Increasing water volume or temperature enhanced the formaldehyde release, suggesting that a high sweat rate and skin
temperature may accelerate the formaldehyde release. When finishing the fabrics, a higher concentration of finishing
agent and the addition of softener accelerated the formaldehyde release. However, increasing catalyst concentration and
curing temperature could reduce the formaldehyde release. It is concluded that formaldehyde release can be effectively
reduced by optimizing the durable press finishing process of cotton fabrics, thus possibly decreasing risk of allergic
contact dermatitis from formaldehyde in textiles.

Keywords
durable press finishing, formaldehyde release, dimethylol dihydroxy ethylene urea, kinetic model

Durable press agents (DP agents) are generally used to


improve the wrinkle resistance of various clothing
fabrics during wear and laundering. However, the
majority of DP agents often contain significant levels
of formaldehyde because they are created from the 1
Division of Textile Chemistry & Ecology, School of Textiles, Tianjin
condensation product of formaldehyde with urea or
Polytechnic University, China
melamine. Formaldehyde is a known human carcino- 2
Key Laboratory of Advanced Textile Composites, Ministry of Education,
gen,1,2 which is released from the cotton clothing fab- Tianjin Polytechnic University, China
3
rics finished with formaldehyde-based DP agents in the Jiangnan Branch, China Textile Academy, Shaoxing, China
last decades. Previous study3 has found that large
amounts of formaldehyde were concentrated in skin Corresponding author:
Yongchun Dong, Division of Textile Chemistry & Ecology, School of
next to the durable press garment and relatively small Textiles, Tianjin Polytechnic University, 399 Bingshui West Road, Xiqing
amounts enter the body when rabbits were used as the District, Tianjin 300387, China.
test subjects. In the 1950s and 1960s, allergic contact Email: dye@tjpu.edu.cn, or teamdong@sina.cn

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Li et al. 1739

dermatitis (ACD) from formaldehyde in textiles was because both of them have close contact with the fin-
commonly reported, especially in Europe. Repeated ished textiles. Thus, the third mechanism described
exposure to fabrics treated with N-methylol durable above should be considered as the main route for the
press agents served as the primary sensitizer in many release of formaldehyde from the finished fabric to skin
of the cases.4,5 The first sign of ACD is the presence of a through sweat extraction. However, little is known
rash or skin lesion at the site of exposure. about the transfer mechanism of formaldehyde
Since the 1960s dimethylol dihydroxy ethylene urea molecules from the finished fabric to the human skin.
(DMDHEU) with lower levels of formaldehyde has Hence, the main objective of this work is to obtain the
gradually become a popular DP agent. In the last release rate and quantity of formaldehyde from the fin-
30 years, modified DMDHEU (e.g. methylated or gly- ished cotton fabrics with DMDHEU-based agents to
colated DMDHEU) was used to further reduce formal- simulate the extraction of formaldehyde by perspiration
dehyde amounts. These values are well below the levels under similar wearing conditions. Moreover, the equi-
of 500–750 mgg1 estimated to be able to elicit ACD in librium and kinetic data of the release process in differ-
patients who are allergic to formaldehyde.6 ent aqueous media were evaluated and compared using
Additionally, the use of scavengers such as urea and three diffusion models (Higuchi, Double phases and
carbohydrazide in durable press finishing systems of Korsmeyer–Peppas equations) to study the release
cotton fabrics has also been shown to be an effective mechanism of the formaldehyde molecules from the
way of reducing the formaldehyde release.7 Despite finished fabric to the human skin. Some important vari-
this, there are still several US clinical studies being ables including release condition (the ratio of the
reported8–12 about US patients suffering from ACD release a medium volume to mass of the finished
to formaldehyde in textiles. Some countries such as fabric and temperature) and finishing process (DP
Japan, Finland and China have legally limited the for- agent concentration, catalyst concentration and curing
maldehyde content in textile products to reduce the risk temperature) on the formaldehyde release were investi-
of ACD since 1973. The international lower limit gated. In addition, this work also discussed the poten-
(75–120 mgg1) for highly formaldehyde sensitive tial impact of ACD from formaldehyde release varied
patients to develop dermatitis for the textiles in direct with sweat production on human skin.
contact with the skin has also been proposed by de
Groot and Maibach et al.5,6
However, the threshold level for formaldehyde in Experimental methods
clothes that may cause ACD in sensitized individuals
is unknown. It is necessary to investigate the transfer
Durable press finishing of cotton fabrics
mechanisms of formaldehyde from the finished fabric Commercially scoured, bleached and mercerized plain
to human skin to ascertain how much formaldehyde weave loom-state 100% cotton fabric with 32 yarncm1
is actually released to cause ACD. Hollies et al.13 density, 30 yarncm1 weft density and 112.3 gm2 aver-
reported that three mechanisms of transfer to skin age area density were used in this investigation, and
require consideration: (1) direct transfer of solid mater- further treated with an aqueous solution containing
ial arising from contact between fabric and skin; (2) 2.0 gL1 Na2CO3 and 2.0 gL1 anionic detergent at
direct transfer of vapor released by the fabric under 100 C for 25min, and then thoroughly washed with
conditions of use; (3) direct transfer in the liquid cold distilled water and dried at room temperature.
phase of chemicals leached from the fabric by sweat. DMDHEU and methylated DMDHEU as two com-
In the case of durable press-finished fabrics, it was mercial DP agents were provided by China Textile
found that the release of formaldehyde from cotton Academy. Methylated DMDHEU was prepared by
fabric through the first and second mechanism is very partial modification with methanol (equation (1)).
low (<10 ngg1).2 Other researches7,14,15 found that the These DP agents were chosen for study because they
formaldehydes released from the finished fabrics are widely used by the textile industry, especially in
include free formaldehyde and hydrolysable formalde- China. The contents of free formaldehyde of
hyde from its precursors (the formaldehyde-containing DMDHDU and methylated DMDHEU were deter-
compounds). If these precursors are present in the fin- mined to be 0.09% and 0.15%, respectively, by a
ished fabrics, they can be hydrolyzed by sweat on the method from the National Standard of China GB/T
skin surface to release free formaldehyde. 27593-2011: Textile dyeing and finishing auxiliaries-
In practice, clothes, especially the underclothes, have free formaldehyde content of amino resin agent. A con-
frequent contact with skin and sweat. In general, two ventional pad-dry-cure process was adopted for the
groups of people including workers involved in the durable press finishing of the cotton fabric. It was
production of finished textiles and consumers are con- impregnated with a finishing solution containing vari-
sidered to have the risk of formaldehyde contact allergy ous concentration of DMDHEU or methylated

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1740 Textile Research Journal 86(16)

DMDHEU (50–150 gL1) and MgCl26H2O (0.5– adding acetylacetone at 40 C for 30 min. The absorb-
20 gL1) with or without softener at room temperature. ance of the solution was measured at 412 nm using a
The impregnated fabric was then padded by a labora- UV-2401 Shimadzu spectrophotometer (Shimadzu
tory padding mangle (Mathis AG, Switzerland). The Corp., Japan). All the experiments were carried out in
wet pick-up was 75–80%. After being padded, the triplicate. The results were expressed as the mean value.
fabric was immediately dried at 80 C for 3 min and Standard deviation is less than 5% of the mean value.
cured in an oven at a different temperature (140–
190 C) for 1.5 min. All the finished fabrics were sealed
using plastic bags in the dark at 5 C before fabric
Study of formaldehyde release kinetics
evaluation. To investigate the mode of formaldehyde release from
the finished fabrics, the release data were fitted to the
O
O following model equations:
C H+ C
HOH2C N N CH2OH + CH3OH H3COH2C N N CH2OCH3
ð1Þ 1. Higuchi equation:20–22
HO OH HO OH

DMDHEU Methylated DMDHEU


Qt ¼ kH t0:5 ð2Þ

where Qt is the concentration of formaldehyde released


from the finished fabric at time t, and kH represents the
Preparation of synthetic sweat solutions
Higuchi release rate constant. Higuchi describes for-
The constituents of sweat on human skin mainly con- maldehyde release from the finished fabric as a square
tain inorganic salts and organic compounds. Sweat pH root of the time-dependent process on the basis of
is varied in its composition. The greater the sweat Na+ Fickian diffusion.
concentration, the greater the sweat pH.16,17 The alka- 2. Double phases equation:23,24
line synthetic sweat (pH ¼ 8.0) and acid synthetic sweat

(pH ¼ 5.0) were often used to simulate the actual sweat Qt ¼ Qe  AekBtþ BekSt ð3Þ
in some studies.17–19 Two synthetic sweat solutions
were prepared according to ISO standard test 105- where Qe is the concentration of formaldehyde released
E04 described in this work.18,19 In order to produce from the fabric sample at equilibrium. Formaldehyde
the synthetic sweat solution, 0.50 gL1 L-histidine release can be divided into two phases: burst release
monochloride monohydrate, 5.0 gL1 NaCl and phase (denoted as B phase) and slow release phase
2.20 gL1 NaH2PO4.12H2O were mixed in distilled (denoted as S phase). kB and kS are the release rate
water. Subsequently, the pH value of this solution constants for B and S phases, respectively.
was adjusted to 8.0 using 0.10 molL1 NaOH for the 3. Korsmeyer–Peppas equation:20,25,26
alkaline synthetic sweat or 5.0 using 0.10 molL1 HCl
for the acid synthetic sweat, and measured using a Qt ¼ kKP tn ð4Þ
DHS-25C digital pH meter (Shanghai Jingmi
Instrumental Co., China). All the solutions were kKP is the release rate constant and n is the release
stored in the dark at 5 C before usage. exponent, which is used to characterize the mechanism
of the formaldehyde release and listed in Table 1.
Release of formaldehyde from finished fabrics
The dried finished fabric was cut into small pieces
(about 0.50 cm  0.50 cm), and thoroughly mixed Table 1. Release mechanism with variation of n values
together. The pre-weighed fibrous pieces were placed
Rate as a
into the fixed volume of the distilled water or synthetic
n value Release mechanism function of time
sweat solution at atmospheric pressure (1.013  105 Pa)
and a certain temperature under gentle shaking. The n < 0.5 Quasi-Fickian diffusion t0.5
ratio of volume (ml) of release medium to mass (g) of n ¼ 0.5 Fickian diffusion t0.5
the finished fabric (denoted as Rvm) was kept to be 100 0.5 < n < 1.0 Anomalous tn-1
(unless otherwise stated). After specified time interval, (non-Fickian) diffusion
the fibrous pieces were removed by filtration. The con- n ¼ 1.0 Non-Fickian case II Zero order
centration of the formaldehyde present in the aqueous release
medium at different time interval was then determined n > 1.0 Non-Fickian super case II tn-1
according to method of Japanese Law 112-1973 by

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Li et al. 1741

450 250
B phase S phase B phase S phase
400

350 200 pH = 5.0


Distilled water
pH = 8.0
300 pH = 5.0
Synthetic sweat
150 pH = 8.0
Qt(µ gg )

250

Qt(µ gg )
-1

-1
pH = 5.0
Distilled water
200 pH = 8.0
pH = 5.0 100
Synthetic sweat
150 pH = 8.0

100 50

50
(DMDHEU) 0 (Methylated DMDHEU)
0
0 60 120 180 240 300 360 420 0 60 120 180 240 300 360 420
t (min) t (min)

Figure 1. Release curves of formaldehyde from two finished fabrics in different aqueous media. Finishing process: DMDHEU or
methylated DMDHEU: 100 gL1, MgCl26H2O: 18 gL1, Curing: 170 C  1.5 min. The values were given as the mean. Standard devi-
ation is less than 5% of the mean value. DMDHEU: dimethylol dihydroxy ethylene urea.

Results and discussion rather labile and easily revert back to their
starting materials (equation (6)). It is difficult to cure
Formaldehyde release behavior all the DMDHEU molecules which are applied
Cotton fabric was finished with DMDHDU or methy- and make sure there are no pendant N-methylol
lated DMDHEU by the pad-dry-cure process described groups left. It is clear that this formaldehyde
above. Formaldehyde release from the obtained fin- exhibits a relatively slower release rate than free formal-
ished fabric was then carried out in different aqueous dehyde since the hydrolysis of the N-CH2OH
media at 35 C, and the experimental results are shown groups depends on the relative stability of their C-O
in Figure 1. and C-N bonds.
Figure 1 shows that there is a sharp increase in The fourth source is the formaldehyde released from
release quantities of formaldehyde from two finished the breaking of the crosslinks between DMDHEU and
fabrics (Qt) as time increasing at the initial release cellulose molecules, which was revealed by the gradual
stage of 60 min. An insignificant increase of Qt values disappearing of ether group (1108 cm1) as well as the
was observed after 60 min, and the increasing tendency formations of absorbing bands of -CH2OH (1027 cm1
of Qt values becomes level when release time is beyond and 1077 cm1) for DMDHEU and absorption peak of
180 min. This is attributed mainly to several sources of -OH for cotton fiber in their IR spectra.28,29 This will
released formaldehyde from the finished fabric. The provide an additional N-CH2OH group, which can
first source is free formaldehyde adsorbed by the fin- hydrolyze, thus resulting in a slow formaldehyde release
ished fabrics. This formaldehyde is generally defined as (equation (7)). It was reported that the methylated
the uncombined monomeric formaldehyde present in DMDHEU is more resistant to both acid and alkaline
finish solutions because its sources are stoichiometric hydrolysis than those from DMDHEU.30 As a result,
excesses that may have been included in the resin man- methylated DMDHEU will give the fabrics low formal-
ufacturing step.3 Free formaldehyde can quickly move dehyde release. In addition, formaldehyde can be
from the fabric to water as soon as the fabric comes released directly from N, N0 -oxydimethylene linkages
into contact with aqueous medium. The second source formed by condensation of methylol groups of
is the most labile cellulose hemiacetal, which readily DMDHEU in the finished fabric (equation (8)).31 It
revert back to formaldehyde (equation (5)) because cel- should be noticed that the formaldehyde from pendant
lulose often picks up formaldehyde from the atmos- N-CH2OH groups (third source), cellulose crosslinks
phere.27 The third source may be formed by the (fourth source) and N, N0 -oxydimethylene linkages is
hydrolysis of the N-CH2OH groups from unreacted regarded as the hydrolysable formaldehyde, the
DMDHEU or from pendant N-CH2OH groups of released amounts of which are variable and larger
DMDHEU molecules that have reacted with cellulose than the amount of free formaldehyde.14 Accordingly,
through only one N-CH2OH group. These linkages are the release curves of formaldehyde can be divided into a

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1742 Textile Research Journal 86(16)

burst release phase (denoted as B phase) and a slow polymer network, which makes the polymeric segments
release phase (denoted as S phase), as illustrated in more rigid and restricts their relaxation upon contact-
Figure 1. The burst release phase may be explained ing with incoming solvent molecules.21,22 The
by first source, second source, and partial hydrolysable DMDHEU-based DP agents can react with hydroxyl
formaldehyde. The rest of hydrolysable formaldehyde groups of cellulose chains to produce the crosslink
should be responsible for the slow release phase. structures on the surface of the finished fabrics. On
A similar result was reported by Cooke.3 the other hand, the formaldehyde release can be best
expressed by Double phases model, as the fitting results
Cell OCH2OH Cell OH + CH2O ð5Þ showed a higher regression coefficients (>0.98). This
indicates that the formaldehyde release has been com-
O posed of a burst release phase and slow release phase.
C
Cell OH2C N N CH2OH
This is in good agreement with the result obtained
according to Higuchi equation. To further confirm
HO OH
ð6Þ the release mechanism, the data were also fitted into
O Korsmeyer–Peppas equation for calculating the diffu-
C
Cell OH2C N NH 2CH2O
sion exponent (n). Two finished fabrics showed better
regression coefficients (>0.90), with slope (n) values
HO OH
ranging from 0.10 to 0.30, indicating that the formal-
O
dehyde release follows Fickian mode.20,25,26 Besides,
C MRE and AIC values of these fitted model equations
Cell OH2C N N CH2O Cell Cell OH were in their reasonable ranges. According to Fick’s
HO OH
first law, the flux goes from regions of high concentra-
ð7Þ tion to regions of low concentration, with a magnitude
O O that is proportional to the concentration gradient.
C C Consequently, it is believed that formaldehyde will
HOH2C N N CH2OH HN NH + 2CH2O move from a region of high concentration on the fabric
HO OH HO OH to a region of low concentration in the aqueous solu-
tion across a concentration gradient. Formaldehyde
O O release from the DMDHEU or methylated
C C DMDHEU finished fabrics has the same mechanism
OH2C N N CH2 O CH2 N N CH2O
at pH 5 and 8 in water or synthetic sweat solution.
HO OH HO OH Moreover, it is also noticed that kHB is much higher
ð8Þ than kHS for each of the formaldehyde release curves
O O
for two DP agents in water or synthetic sweat solution.
C C This confirms that formaldehyde has a significant burst
OH2C N N CH2 N N CH2O + CH2O release phase once the finished fabric is immersed with
HO OH HO OH water or synthetic sweat solution.
In addition, it is evident in Tables 2 and 3 that kHB,
kKP and Qe values at pH 5 are lower than those at pH 8
for two finished fabrics in water or synthetic sweat solu-
tion, which demonstrates that formaldehyde release has
Mechanism of formaldehyde release more difficulty at acid medium than at alkaline medium
In order to understand the mechanism of formaldehyde under the same conditions. This is mainly owing to the
release kinetics from the finished fabrics, the data pre- relative stability of the C-O and C-N bonds of the
sented in Figure 1 were regressed according to the three N-CH2OH in DMDHEU or methylated DMDUEU
model equations, and the regression results are listed in and its crosslinks with cellulose molecules. It was
Tables 2 and 3. reported that the rate of cleavage of the C-O bond is
As shown in Tables 2 and 3, the data are found to fit much faster than that of the C-N bond under acidic
well with the Higuchi equation with all regression coef- conditions, thus the latter determines the release rate
ficients >0.90, illustrating that the formaldehyde release of formaldehyde. Moreover, the rate of cleavage of
from the finished fabrics can be described using the the C-N bond was relatively lower under acid condition
Higuchi equation based on Fickian diffusion by two and higher under alkaline condition,3 which therefore
stages. This is because the Higuchi diffusion-controlled enhanced the formaldehyde amount released from the
release model is suitable for the highly crosslinked finished fabric at alkaline medium. The cleavage of C-O

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Li et al. 1743

Table 2. Kinetic parameters of formaldehyde release from DMDHEU finished fabric

Kinetic Correlation
Medium pH Models Fitted model equations parameters coefficient MRE (%) AIC

Water 5 Higuchi Qt ¼ 10.40t0.5 kHB ¼ 10.40 RHB ¼ 0.9014 7.648 193.7


Qt ¼ 0.594t0.5 kHS ¼ 0.594 RHS ¼ 0.9728
Double phases Qt ¼ 96.52  (42.06e0.699t Qe ¼ 96.52 R ¼ 0.9962 14.13 209.0
+54.28e0.063t)
Korsemeyer–Peppas Qt ¼ 52.63t0.117 kKP ¼ 52.63 RKP ¼ 0.9134 18.3 125.2
n ¼ 0.117
8 Higuchi Qt ¼ 40.42t0.5 kHB ¼ 40.42 RHB ¼ 0.9866 35.74 176.9
Qt ¼ 1.491t0.5 kHS ¼ 1.491 RHS ¼ 0.9651
Double phases Qt ¼ 389.1  (288.6e0.027t Qe ¼ 389.1 R ¼ 0.9988 72.27 185.8
+94.32e29.86t)
Korsemeyer–Peppas Qt ¼ 121.1t0.211 kKP ¼ 121.1 RKP ¼ 0.9505 32.96 264.5
n ¼ 0.211
Synthetic sweat 5 Higuchi Qt ¼ 8.61t0.5 kHB ¼ 8.61 RHB ¼ 0.9950 17.57 105.4
Qt ¼ 0.859t0.5 kHS ¼ 0.859 RHS ¼ 0.9693
Double phases Qt ¼ 79.66  (20.07e0.007t Qe ¼ 79.66 R ¼ 0.9962 26.43 213.6
+53.51e0.052t)
Korsemeyer–Peppas Qt ¼ 20.29t0.240 kKP ¼ 20.29 RKP ¼ 0.9547 4.53 125.0
n ¼ 0.240
8 Higuchi Qt ¼ 29.12t0.5 kHB ¼ 29.12 RHB ¼ 0.9721 10.64 202.5
Qt ¼ 3.413t0.5 kHS ¼ 3.413 RHS ¼ 0.9790
Double phases Qt ¼ 282.4  (105.8e0.012t Qe ¼ 282.4 R ¼ 0.9926 43.66 182.8
+152.5e0.110t)
Korsemeyer–Peppas Qt ¼ 92.51t0.200 kKP ¼ 92.51 RKP ¼ 0.9635 25.48 236.4
n ¼ 0.200
kHB (min0.5) and kHS (min0.5) are Higuchi release rate constants at B phase and S phase, respectively. kKP (minn) is the release rate constant for
Korsemeyer–Peppas model. Qe (mgg1) is the concentration of formaldehyde released from the fabric sample at equilibrium. The values were given as
the mean. Standard deviation is less than 5% of the mean value. MRE (maximum relative error) is express as: MRE ¼ (1-Qfit/Qexp)  100%, where Qex
and Qfit are experimental data and fitted value of formaldehyde release quantity. AIC (akaike information criterion) can be calculated as: AIC ¼ N(ln
SSR) + 2p, where N is number of experimental data points, SSR is the sum of the squared residuals and p is the number of parameters. The smaller the
value of AIC, the better the model adjusts the data.32

bond and C-N bond of the N-CH2OR under acidic formaldehyde,33,34 and their reaction is described by
condition is expressed in equation (9). equation (10).

O O
k2 k1 OH OH

CH2OH
N CH2 O R + H+ HO R + N NH2 N N
CH2OH ð10Þ
ð9Þ + CH2O
N N
+ H2O
H CH2OH
N CH2 N H + CH2O

In order to verify the reaction of formaldehyde with


On the other hand, formaldehyde release shows L-histidine in synthetic sweat, each component of syn-
larger kHB, kKP and Qe values in the case of water thetic sweat was added into three aqueous formalde-
than in the case of synthetic sweats at the same pH hyde solution (initial concentration: 5.0 mgL1),
level. The main reason may be that the NH or NH2 respectively. And then the resulting mixtures were
groups in L-histidine molecule can react with kept at pH 5 or pH 8 and 30 C for 30 min under

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1744 Textile Research Journal 86(16)

Table 3. Kinetic parameters of formaldehyde release from methylated DMDHEU finished fabric

Kinetic Correlation
Medium pH Models Fitted model equations parameters coefficients MRE (%) AIC

Water 5 Higuchi Qt ¼ 7.801t0.5 kHB ¼ 7.801 RHB ¼ 0.9613 18.76 180.4


Qt ¼ 1.829t0.5 kHS ¼ 1.829 RHS ¼ 0.9522
Double phases Qt ¼ 90.82  (42.04e0.014t Qe ¼ 90.82 R ¼ 0.9845 13.01 216.6
+48.40e0.773t)
Korsemeyer–Peppas Qt ¼ 38.46t0.151 kKP ¼ 38.46 RKP ¼ 0.9866 16.87 156.0
n ¼ 0.151
8 Higuchi Qt ¼ 22.13t0.5 kHB ¼ 22.13 RHB ¼ 0.9456 31.61 182.8
Qt ¼ 2.706t0.5 kHS ¼ 2.706 RHS ¼ 0.9354
Double phases Qt ¼ 223.7  (79.79e0.011t Qe ¼ 223.7 R ¼ 0.9939 13.94 138.3
+129.56e0.156t)
Korsemeyer–Peppas Qt ¼ 84.71t0.171 kKP ¼ 84.71 RKP ¼ 0.9643 29.53 217.7
n ¼ 0.171
Synthetic sweat 5 Higuchi Qt ¼ 4.29t0.5 kHB ¼ 4.29 RHB ¼ 0.9881 15.24 128.2
Qt ¼ 0.388t0.5 kHS ¼ 0.388 RHS ¼ 0.9522
Double phases Qt ¼ 47.84  (31.65e0.021t Qe ¼ 47.84 R ¼ 0.9969 38.42 203.5
+16.22e0.614t)
Korsemeyer–Peppas Qt ¼ 15.89t 0.198 kKP ¼ 15.89 RKP ¼ 0.9540 12.40 84.03
n ¼ 0.198
8 Higuchi Qt ¼ 12.55t0.5 kHB ¼ 12.55 RHB ¼ 0.9419 7.753 95.17
Qt ¼ 0.801t0.5 kHS ¼ 0.801 RHS ¼ 0.9135
Double phases Qt ¼ 114.2  (39.81e0.018t Qe ¼ 114.2 R ¼ 0.9991 32.74 140.7
+75.61e0.169t)
Korsemeyer–Peppas Qt ¼ 47.56t0.117 kKP ¼ 47.56 RKP ¼ 0.9156 96.45 233.9
n ¼ 0.117

Table 4. Formaldehyde concentrations in different concentration in the solution or synthetic sweat syn-
solutions after reaction thetic sweat.
Comparing the kinetic parameters of formaldehyde
Formaldehyde
concentrations (mgl1) release listed in Tables 2 and 3, kHB, kKP and Qe values
for DMDHEU-finished fabric are remarkably higher
Systems pH ¼ 5 pH ¼ 8 than those for methylated DMDHEU-finished fabrics.
This is because that the alkylation of DMDHEU can
5.0 gl1 NaCl 4.99 4.92
significantly reduce the formaldehyde release by
2.2 gl1NaH2PO4.12H2O 4.97 4.95
improving the stability of C-O bond of its N-CH2OR
0.50 gl1 L-histidine 3.50 3.62 group during the hydrolysis. Moreover, the resistance
Synthetic sweat 3.54 3.57 to hydrolysis also seems to depend on the extent of
alkylation of DMDHEU.30 Another possible reason is
that DMDHEU has a higher content of free formalde-
continuous agitation. For comparison, a control experi- hyde than methylated DMDHEU, as described above.
ment was also performed with synthetic sweat. Finally, Thus, more free formaldehyde molecules may be
the formaldehyde concentrations in four solutions were transported to the fabric when DP finishing being
measured and are presented in Table 4. conducted with DMDHEU. Hence, it is believed that
Table 4 shows that the formaldehyde concentration there is higher formaldehyde concentration on
in the solution containing L-histidine or synthetic sweat DMDHEU-finished fabric than that on methylated
is much lower than 5.0 gl1. By contrast, the formalde- DMDHEU-finished fabric. On the basis of Fick diffu-
hyde concentrations in the other two systems without sion law, formaldehyde molecules move more quickly
L-histidine are close to 5.0 gl1 under the same condi- from DMDHEU-finished fabric than methylated
tions. These results confirm that L-histidine has reacted DMDHEU-finished fabric into the aqueous solution.
with formaldehyde, thus reducing the formaldehyde More importantly, it should be pointed out that Qe

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Li et al. 1745

180
400 Methylated DMDHEU
DMDHEU
150
350 pH = 5.0 pH = 5.0
pH = 8.0 pH = 8.0
300 120

Qe(µ gg )
-1
Qe(µ gg )
-1

250 90

200
60
150
30
100

50 0
0 20 40 60 80 100 0 20 40 60 80 100
Rvm Rvm

Figure 2. Relationship between Rvm and Qe values. Finishing process: DMDHEU or methylated DMDHEU: 100 gL1, MgCl26H2O:
18 gL1, Curing: 170 C  1.5 min. Error bars are the standard deviation of the mean values shown. DMDHEU: dimethylol dihydroxy
ethylene urea.

values (79.66 mgg1 for DMDHEU and 47.84 mgg1 for increasing Rvm level is accompanied by proportionally
methylated DMDHEU) in acidic synthetic sweat for increasing Qe value at pH 8. Furthermore, Qe values
two finished fabrics are lower than the international with higher Rvm levels (Rvm > 10 for DMDHEU or
lower formaldehyde limit (75–120 mgg1) for the textiles Rvm > 50 for methylated DMDHEU) are higher
in direct contact with the skin.5,6 Correspondingly, Qe than the international lower formaldehyde limit
values (282.4 mgg1 for DMDHEU and 114.2 mgg1 for (75–120 mgg1) for the textiles in direct contact with
methylated DMDHEU) in alkaline synthetic sweat sig- the skin. This indicates that higher sweat amount may
nificantly exceed this limit. Accordingly, from the view enhance the formaldehyde release from the fabric when
point of reducing formaldehyde release, it is necessary sweat pH becomes neutral or alkaline with the
to decrease the application of two DP agents, especially increased sweat rate, which may increase the risk of
DMDHEU in wrinkle-resistant finishing of cotton formaldehyde contact allergy, due to the fact that
fabrics. sweat of low sweat rates is acid, whereas that of high
sweat rates is basic.36 Besides, it is well recognized that
sweat rate and pH are not uniform over the skin sur-
Effect of release conditions
face. The sweat rate and pH at chest, scapula and lower
It is well known that the amount of sweat secreted from back are significantly higher than those at other skin
the pores of the human body or the sweat rate is highly regions, especially abdomen and upper arm.16 Hence, it
varied and dependent upon daily activity, emotional is believed that these skin regions may easily cause for-
state and environmental temperature. Moreover, maldehyde contact allergy at the same conditions. In
human sweat production may increase to 3.0 Lh1 by addition, DMDHEU-finished fabric exhibits much
short-term exercise in warm environment.35 To exam- higher Qe value than methylated DMDHEU-finished
ine the formaldehyde release from the finished fabric in fabric at the same Rvm level.
different amount of sweat secreted, cotton fabric was Sweat temperature is greatly determined by skin
finished with DMDHEU or methylated DMDHEU temperature. The mean skin temperatures have been
using the pad-dry-cure process, and then tested for for- tested to be between 33–38 C.37 To evaluate the effect
maldehyde release in distilled water at 35 C and differ- of sweat temperature on formaldehyde release, two fin-
ent Rvm for 400 min. The released quantity of ished fabrics described above were employed for releas-
formaldehyde at equilibrium (Qe) was calculated by ing formaldehyde into distilled water at different
Double phases equation and provided in Figure 2. temperatures for 400 min, and the results are shown
Figure 2 shows that little change in Qe value at pH 5 in Table 5.
was observed when Rvm level increased from 10 to 100. Table 5 shows that kHB, kHS and Qe values at pH 8
This result proposes that in practice, formaldehyde gradually increase with rising temperature from 30 C to
released is hardly affected by increasing the amount 42 C, whereas the three values at pH 5 vary insignifi-
of sweat on the surface of human skin. In contrast, cantly with temperature. These results demonstrate that

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1746 Textile Research Journal 86(16)

Table 5. Effect of temperature on kHB, kHS and Qe values at pH 5 and 8

DMDHEU Methylated DMDHEU

Temperature ( C) 30 33 36 42 50 75 100 125

kHB (min0.5) pH ¼ 5 8.190 9.022 10.18 11.19 3.123 3.651 3.988 4.662
pH ¼ 8 21.50 24.73 28.41 32.36 10.19 12.89 14.45 16.03
kHS (min0.5) pH ¼ 5 1.591 1.521 1.047 1.244 1.649 1.799 1.914 2.001
pH ¼ 8 4.707 5.699 5.710 5.789 1.725 2.422 2.787 2.890
Qe(mgg1) pH ¼ 5 86.04 94.45 100.8 105.9 29.01 33.57 39.35 51.64
pH ¼ 8 228.0 260.9 296.5 324.4 98.73 121.9 138.46 153.8
Finishing process: DMDHEU or Methylated DMDHEU: 100 gL1, MgCl26H2O: 18 gL1, Curing: 170 C  1.5 min. Error bars are the standard deviation
of the mean values shown. The values were given as the mean. Standard deviation is less than 5% of the mean value.

Table 6. Effect of DP agent concentration on kHB, kHS and Qe values

DMDHEU (gL1) Methylated DMDHEU (gL1)

DP agents 50 75 100 125 150 50 75 100 125 150


0.5
kHB (min ) pH ¼ 5 5.337 5.813 6.808 8.547 9.993 1.290 2.872 4.425 5.987 6.083
pH ¼ 8 17.95 26.16 41.19 63.75 93.88 9.333 12.09 16.11 20.09 24.92
kHS (min0.5) pH ¼ 5 0.335 0.536 0.690 1.030 1.311 1.234 1.627 1.923 2.298 2.661
pH ¼ 8 3.635 4.147 4.891 6.557 9.380 0.871 1.890 2.706 3.987 5.655
Qe(mgg1) pH ¼ 5 46.65 56.55 68.75 85.00 104.2 11.35 30.64 48.45 60.95 72.07
pH ¼ 8 192.8 261.1 406.6 664.1 908.6 103.97 125.36 167.46 215.57 232.57
The values were given as the mean. Standard deviation is less than 5% of the mean value.

raising temperature can significantly accelerate formal- suggesting that higher concentration of DP agent in
dehyde liberating from the fabric at burst release phase. the padding bath gives rise to a rapid formaldehyde
The reason may be that the release rate of free formal- release from the finished fabric. This is mainly due to
dehyde and the hydrolysis of pendant N-CH2OR are the increasing amount of free formaldehyde and hydro-
promoted by rising temperature.3 Thus, it is predicted lysable formaldehyde from the high content of the
that relatively higher skin temperature may be benefi- unreacted DP agent on the finished fabric when larger
cial for the transfer of formaldehyde from fabric to skin dosages of DP agent being applied. The resulting pen-
surface, thus leading to formaldehyde contact allergy dant N-CH2OR groups can hydrolyze to produce
more easily. formaldehyde.

Catalyst concentration. MgCl2 is the most common Lewis


Effect of finishing process acid catalyst usable for durable press finishing. In
DP agent concentration. DP agent can crosslink the adja- this experiment, the finished fabrics were prepared
cent cellulose chains for improving wrinkle resistance of with various amounts of MgCl26H2O and 100 gL1
cotton fabric. In this work, cotton fabrics were finished DMDHEU or methylated DMDHEU by curing treat-
with various amounts of DMDHEU or methylated ment (170 C  1.5 min), and tested for formaldehyde
DMDHEU and 18 gL1 MgCl26H2O by curing treat- release in distilled water at 35 C. Their kHB, kHS and
ment (170 C  1.5 min), and the formaldehyde release Qe values were determined and are presented in
from the obtained finishing fabrics was conducted in Table 7.
distilled water at 35 C. Their kHB and kHS values Table 7 shows that a higher concentration of catalyst
were then determined through the method mentioned causes the significant decrease in kHB, kHS and Qe
above and shown in Table 6. values, particularly at alkaline medium. Moreover, a
Table 6 shows that kHB, kHS and Qe values, espe- Qe value lower than 150 mgg1 was found when
cially at pH 8, gradually increase as concentration of 20 gL1 MgCl26H2O was used, since it can lead to
DP agent increases from 50 gL1 to 150 gL1, more intensive linkages of DP agent with cellulose

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Li et al. 1747

Table 7. Effect of catalyst concentration on kHB, kHS and Qe values

DMDHEU Methylated DMDHEU


1
Catalyst (gL ) 0.5 5 10 15 20 0.5 5 10 15 20

kHB (min0.5) pH ¼ 5 18.73 15.62 13.27 10.96 3.721 19.04 14.75 13.12 6.026 20.50
pH ¼ 8 122.5 71.73 55.62 35.02 14.63 47.22 35.83 25.94 21.09 13.5
kHS (min0.5) pH ¼ 5 3.752 2.903 2.736 2.382 0.7126 3.893 2.942 2.323 1.059 3.842
pH ¼ 8 21.058 11.704 10.48 7.367 2.363 8.081 6.090 4.988 4.456 2.896
Qe(mgg1) pH ¼ 5 194.0 144.1 138.9 98.69 31.38 179.20 150.2 120.3 57.88 19.08
pH ¼ 8 1254 736.8 547.1 340.8 133.7 459.1 345.8 263.2 210.2 128.4
The values were given as the mean. Standard deviation is less than 5% of the mean value.

Table 8. Effect of curing temperature on kHB, kHS and Qe values

DMDHEU Methylated DMDHEU

Curing temperature ( C) 130 150 170 190 130 150 170 190

kHB (min0.5) pH ¼ 5 18.46 13.63 5.155 3.608 8.422 4.621 3.853 2.721
pH ¼ 8 58.47 31.63 12.63 8.379 20.46 16.72 6.072 4.836
kHS (min0.5) pH ¼ 5 3.950 2.281 0.991 0.754 1.519 0.789 0.731 0.553
pH ¼ 8 13.74 7.471 2.829 1.811 3.835 3.915 1.208 0.941
Qe(mgg1) pH ¼ 5 178.3 129.3 56.09 39.28 87.81 42.11 32.87 21.29
pH ¼ 8 579.2 300.1 110.2 79.21 199.2 167.7 67.34 47.22
The values were given as the mean. Standard deviation is less than 5% of the mean value.

fibers to reduce the unreacted DP agent and pendant N- DMDHEU-finished cotton fabrics. Meanwhile, the fin-
methylol groups, thus inhibiting the formation of ished cotton fabric was also prepared as a control
hydrolysable formaldehyde. sample without softener using the same method. They
were then investigated for formaldehyde release. The
Curing temperature. Cotton fabrics padded with contact angle of a water droplet on the finished fabric
100 gL1 DMDHDU or methylated DMDHEU and surface was measured using a liquid-solid contact angle
18 gL1MgCl26H2O were cured at different tempera- analyzer (DSA100; Krüss, Germany) equipped with a
tures for 1.5 min. Formaldehyde release of the finished high-speed camera and calculated by Tangent method 2.
fabric in distilled water was then performed and their The experimental results were presented in Table 9.
kHB, kHS and Qe values are given in Table 8. It can be seen from Table 9 that kHB, kHS and Qe
Table 8 shows that kHB, kHS and Qe values of the values of the finished fabrics with softener are higher
finished fabrics decreased with elevation of curing tem- than those of control sample at the same conditions,
perature. This result demonstrates that a higher curing indicating that the addition of softener can enhance the
temperature is able to enhance the degree of linkage release rate of formaldehyde from the fabrics. This is
between DP agent and cotton fiber, therefore resulting because formation of the softener film on the fabric
in a reduced release of hydrolysable formaldehyde. surface during cure treatment may block the crosslink
However, the free formaldehyde is the most independ- of DP agent with cotton fiber to increase the amount of
ent upon curing temperature. the unreacted DMDHEU or methylated DMDUEU
and pendant N-methylol groups, which can generate
Softeners. Use of a softener in the durable press formu- the hydrolysable formaldehyde. On the other hand, it
lation partially overcomes the loss of strength, stiffness is worth noticing that the film formed with softeners,
and resistance to abrasion of the finished fabric owing particular in silicone softener AMS can significantly
to crosslinking of DP agent.38 In this work, three com- improve the surface hydrophilicity of the finished
mercial softeners including silicone softener AMS, cotton fabric. As seen in Table 9, according to their
polyurethane softener DPU and polyethylene softener water contact angle, four samples were ranked in this
PEN were selected to prepare three different order: AMS > DPU > PEN > Control. This indicated

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1748 Textile Research Journal 86(16)

Table 9. kHB, kHS and Qe values and water contact angles of the finished fabrics with different softeners

DMDUEU Methylated DMDHEU

DP agents Softeners Control AMS DPU PEN Control AMS DPU PEN

kHB (min1) pH ¼ 5 7.673 9.393 11.98 14.71 4.532 6.342 8.391 10.02
pH ¼ 8 22.50 50.18 58.04 76.55 15.98 20.39 27.01 30.63
kHS (min1) pH ¼ 5 1.898 2.048 3.099 3.238 1.423 1.966 2.766 2.904
pH ¼ 8 6.503 7.587 8.903 11.38 2.391 2.502 3.541 4.223
Qe(mgg1) pH ¼ 5 75.48 95.35 111.1 135.1 42.88 69.54 80.37 101.5
pH ¼ 8 217.0 496.3 573.8 771.8 159.74 198.43 274.8 298.51
Water contact angle (O) 10.3 135.1 47.3 37.5 10.1 142.8 51.2 41.6
Finishing process: DP agent: 100 gL1, MgCl26H2O: 18 gL1, softener: 30 gL1, Curing: 170 C  1.5 min. The values were given as the mean. Standard
deviation is less than 5% of the mean value.

that the hydrophilicity is the lowest for Control, follow the DMDHEU finished fabric, its release rate and
by DPU and PEN, and the highest for AMS. As a quantity at equilibrium are much less than those of
result of increasing hydrophilicity, the water wetting the latter under the same condition. The formaldehyde
and diffusion on the finished fabric are hindered; release quantity of two finished fabrics in alkaline
hence this limits the production of hydrolysable formal- synthetic sweat exceeds the lower limit for causing
dehyde and free formaldehyde moving from the fin- the formaldehyde contact allergy, therefore the two
ished fabric to water. Specially, the water contact DP agents, especially DMDHEU should be limited
angle of the finished fabric with AMS is 135.3–142.8o, for the treatment of cotton fabric. Increasing water
much higher than those of the finished fabric with the volume or temperature enhanced the formaldehyde
other softeners. Thus, it has a stronger limiting effect on release, suggesting that high sweat rate and skin tem-
formaldehyde release than the other softeners under the perature may accelerate the formaldehyde release,
same conditions. The reason is that the Si-H group of thus increasing the risk of ACD from formaldehyde
silicon polymer hydrolyzes to the silanol and condenses in textiles. Furthermore, formaldehyde release is sig-
to a three-dimensional resinous film, making the fabric nificantly affected by DP finishing process. Higher
highly water repellent.38 Consequently, the presence of concentration of DP agent and the addition of soft-
softener in the durable press formulation obtains better ener enhance the formaldehyde release. On the con-
performance of the finished fabric, but promotes for- trary, increasing catalyst concentration and curing
maldehyde release at the same time. temperature can reduce the formaldehyde release.
Therefore, the formaldehyde release can be effectively
reduced by optimizing the DP finishing process of
Conclusions
cotton fabrics, possibly eliciting ACD in patients aller-
The release process of formaldehyde from the finished gic to formaldehyde under real wearing conditions.
cotton fabrics with DMDHEU-based DP agents
included two stages, namely the burst release phase Acknowledgement
and the slow release phase, which is explained by The authors thank the Tianjin Municipal Science and
five different sources. Formaldehyde has a higher Technology Committee for a Research Program of
release rate at the burst phase than the slow phase Application Foundation and Advanced Technology
from the fabrics under the same conditions. More (11JCZDJC24600).
importantly, the formaldehyde release mechanism fol-
lowed Fickian mode, and described using three differ- Declaration of conflicting interests
ent kinetic equations including Higuchi, Double The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with
phases and Korsmeyer–Peppas models, respectively. respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
Higher formaldehyde release was found in alkaline article.
medium than in acid medium. Formaldehyde showed
a lower release rate in synthetic sweat solution than Funding
that in water under the same conditions due possibly The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial sup-
to the reaction of L-histidine with formaldehyde. port for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
Although the methylated DMDHEU finished fabric article: This work was supported by the Natural Science
has the similar formaldehyde release mechanism to Foundation of China (grant number 20773093).

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Li et al. 1749

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