Welcome to my first edition of lab corner. At the suggestion of Rich Pesce, I have agreed to write a quarterly column for Pesce Lab Sale’s Web-site about what’s going on in permeation testing laboratories. I knew Rich’s father, Paul Pesce and have known Rich for over 25 years now and worked with them in the development of the first standard permeation test cell used in ASTM’s Method F-739, Standard Test Method for Resistance of Protective Clothing Materials to Permeation by Liquids or Gases Under Conditions of Continuous Contact. This method has become the voluntary consensus standard method for reporting all permeation test results on protective clothing. These cells are available from Pesce Lab Sales. I have used the cells for testing and have considerable experience with testing protective clothing materials. I also am a certified industrial hygienist and make recommendations for appropriate selection of protective clothing materials for various hazards. I currently am a member ASTM ‘s Committee F-23 on Protective Clothing and a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Protective Equipment committee.

The intent of this column is to offer an exchange of information about what is going on in the field of permeation testing and in protective clothing standards development. Since the use of this method became accepted, almost twenty years ago, various new protective clothing materials have been developed and new test methods considered by ASTM. Therefore, it is imperative to stay updated in the latest selection of protective clothing materials available and the new performance test methods. Did you know that in addition to testing protective clothing, the permeation cells also have been used for testing the resistance of membranes, liners for holding ponds and various other barrier materials?

So what’s new in permeation testing? Obviously, the events of 9/11 have triggered a response to test for resistance to agents of “Terrorism”. These agents can be physical, chemical or biological and pose an interesting challenge to testing laboratories since they need the agents to test and safely dispose after testing is complete. There are many government and military labs out there doing testing, but few published test results. Both for the security of our country and for the safety of our emergency response, fire and hazardous material teams this information is needed to protect us and them from potential exposure. One of my most recent experiences was to test for the permeation resistance of suit materials to chlorine dioxide, the chemical disinfectant selected for use against Anthrax, and used to fumigate the Senate Hart building in Washington, DC. As more information becomes available on test results for these agents and other new test methods I will try to keep you informed.