September has arrived, Labor Day is past and summer is winding down. Fall sports are beginning and major league baseball teams are vying for divisional titles and a chance to play in the World Series. All this is part of the change of seasons and rituals as the year winds down and Holiday season approaches. It is also time for me to write my 4th quarterly column on protective clothing for 2007.

It’s been a relatively busy year in protective clothing research, development and standardization. Both the ASTM F23 and the AIHA Committees on Protective Clothing and Equipment have had their annual meetings, reviewed standards, sponsored technical programs and responded to regulatory issues and protective clothing users concerns. On the regulatory front OSHA’s proposed law (HB 1327) requiring all employers to provide protective clothing is scheduled to be finalized in November. NIOSH, on the other hand, has published through the CDC a Permeation Calculator DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-143c. This calculator program is to be used with the ASTM F23 Permeation Test Method F739 to calculate average breakthrough times and permeation rates. It is available free from NIOSH by just calling 1-800-35-NIOSH or at . This is a terrific program that can be used if you do your own permeation testing and want to be sure that your data and results report the correct permeation breakthrough times and rates following the F739 test method. In fact, the ASTM committee, F23 is considering adding this program to the actual test method protocol. The program is written to accept permeation data from either closed or open loop sampling and analytical systems, a minimum analytical detection limit and for either gas or liquid collection medium in either the 1” or 2” test cells. It should reduce calculation errors in reported permeation data.

Two proposed new standards are also being developed by ASTM International Committee F23 on Protective Clothing and Equipment. The first identified as WK 14247, is for Air-fed protective ensembles. These ensembles include clothing and equipment items needed for dermal and respiratory protection, including protective suits, gloves, footwear, and eye/face protection. They rely on principal air supply to the wearer via an air line or air-filtered directly into the ensemble. They are currently being used in a variety of applications in the nuclear industry and in biological defense research with Bio-Safety Level 4 hazards. The standard would set specifications for design, performance, documentation, labeling and certification requirements for protective ensembles. The other standard, WK 14442, Antimicrobial Activity of Textiles Following Multiple Laundering with Bleach would propose testing antimicrobial efficacy of garments treated with antimicrobial agents. Testing would ensure these antimicrobial agents would continue to work throughout a garment’s life span through normal industrial or home washing.

Finally, just a reminder that Rich and I are available to answer your protective clothing questions on permeation testing, analytical equipment, methods and testing systems. Rich also has a supply of the standard reference 16 mil neoprene to check out your permeation test system. Why not check your test system using the new NIOSH permeation calculator with this reference material? Hope you have a nice holiday season and I look forward to keeping you updated on protective clothing testing beginning next year.

Norm Henry