The leaves are starting to change color. Baseballs and footballs are in the air and political speeches and signs are everywhere. Speaking of politics and the elections, I can not help but to mention the woes of our struggling economy that our political leaders are attempting to resolve. Anyway, as the year ends, it is also time for my 4th quarterly column for 2008.

It has been an unusually quiet year for protective clothing standards development, technical accomplishments, publications and regulatory announcements. Both ASTM and AIHA’s Protective Clothing and Equipment committee’s held their annual meetings to review proposed standards, guidelines, test methods and performance specifications for protective clothing and are busy considering their impact to users in the occupational environment. One noteable accomplishment was ASTM F-23 Chemical Sub-Committee’s (F23.30) vote for revisions to update the F739 permeation test method, so now the method is designated ASTM F739-07. The work of these committees has been instrumental in developing many new standards, test methods, guidelines, regulations and specifications for improving the performance of protective clothing and protecting workers everywhere. The need for revisions to test methods, improved clothing materials and protective equipment will always be there to protect those involved with new technologies, chemical, biological and physical agents. Without the committee’s efforts our workforce would be subject potential harm, injuries, diseases and possibly death.

While the year has been relatively quiet for technical committees, my consulting work in protective clothing testing and evaluation has been quite busy. Several requests for information on test methods, permeation test cells and systems were received. Currently, I am still contracted to do additional permeation studies on clothing materials with new chemicals being considered for pre-manufacturing notification (PMN’s). One unusual request from a client involved using the permeation test cell to determine the release of an encapsulated chemical into a dispersing medium for application to agricultural crops. So the need for permeation studies applies not only to clothing materials, but to other types of coated membranes, liners and capsules used to contain chemicals. When considering permeation studies keep Rich Pesce and me in mind. We have a lot of experience and knowledge and are willing to offer our service.

As for next year, the ASTM F-23 meeting is scheduled for January 27- 29th at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Ga. and NIOSH’s Personal Protective Technology Program will conduct a stakeholder meeting on March 3,2009 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Pittsburgh Airport. Presentation topics will include current and future personal protective technology research projects and an opportunity for discussion. So as the year ends both Rich and I wish you the best for the coming year as well as a successful election and return to a stable economy.

Norm Henry