Summer is here and it’s now time to shed the spring clothes in favor of light weight fabrics, colors and apparel. While this makes you cooler, it does not protect you from the hazards of exposure to the sun, poisonous plants and insects. So what do you do? Obviously, the first thing to do is evaluate the hazards of your summertime activities, select appropriate clothing and wear it. Doesn’t this sound familiar to a PPE hazard assessment in the workplace? Any way you look at it, clothing is a necessity and it really comes down to whether you want comfort or protection. Ideally you want both, so choose accordingly so that you can enjoy the summer sun and fun in whatever you do.

So much for summer clothing and protection, it’s time now to update you on what is going on in ASTM Committee F23 on Protective Clothing and Equipment. The committee is meeting in Norfolk, VA this week to review comments, ballots and suggestions to revisions of the permeation test method F739-99a. This method has not been updated in several years and will go to society ballot following any revisions or upgrades agreed upon at the meeting. Items being considered are the use of the smaller 1 inch test cell, testing at 370 C and updated precision and bias statements based on new inter-laboratory tests performed with reference materials. While no differences in permeation data between using the 1 or 2 inch cell have been shown, testing at a constant temperature greater than ambient room temperature may cause permeation breakthrough to occur sooner and at a greater rate. Currently most of the permeation data is reported at ambient room temperature. We will have to wait and see what the committee decides on this for now. Other questions that have come up on this method are if there is any other reference material besides the standard 16 mil neoprene to test. Butyl rubber has been suggested since is thicker and would have longer breakthrough time to acetone, but I am not aware of any standard supplier. I know the military is interested in a reference material that has a longer breakthrough time to acetone than neoprene in order to validate their testing system to Chemical Warfare agents. Perhaps, just doubling the standard 16 mil neoprene to 32 mil would meet testing needs? Theoretically this should increase the breakthrough time and decrease the permeation rate.

Two other items that I would like to make you aware of are the publication of the 5th Edition of “The Quick Selection Guide to Chemical Protective Clothing” by Krister Forsberg and Zack Mansdorf , in Wiley-Interscience 2007. The publication was available at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHc&e) in Philadelphia this month includes test data on ~800 chemicals, 99 chemical classes, 19 barrier materials, and a new Trade name Table. Also, I would like to inform you that an article I submitted the Journal of Chemical Safety and Health (American Chemical Society publication, CHAS) entitled “Four Decades of Protective Clothing Development and Standardization” has been accepted for release in the Nov/Dec Issue 2007. That’s it for now, but I hope you have a safe, comfortable summer wherever you go and in whatever protective clothing you wear.

Norm Henry