Spring has arrived, robins are around, flowers are blooming and parents are cleaning up baseball fields for the first practice and game. It is a colorful time of the year and it reminds me of the change to light weight clothing and brilliant colors. Colors play an important role in protective clothing. Workers wear yellow and orange to warn of hazards in a work area, just as they identify bicyclists riding along the road. The choice of these colors is based on their visibility. Protective clothing is colored too and comes in a variety of colors to warn of hazards or hazardous jobs. There are some standards for protective clothing visibility, particularly for night reflection, fire fighters gear and day time emergency response. While I have tested all kinds of colored protective clothing, I have often wondered whether the dyes and pigments they use affect chemical resistance? I do know that exposure to some of the chemicals will cause color changes to the outer surface of clothing and usually is indicative of a change in performance. What’s your experience?

So far this year it has been relatively quiet in protective clothing standards development, meetings, symposiums and publications. With the change in administration in Washington, regulatory agendas and the weak economy, there has been very little activity. Although, the ASTM Committee F-23 met in Atlanta, GA in January. I have not seen minutes published on the F-23 web page at astm.org. The AIHA Protective Clothing committee has had one conference call and is planning to meet in Toronto, Canada in June. They are working on updates, revisions and publishing a new edition of their Chemical Protective Clothing book. For the most part, I know that there still is a lot of interest in testing protective clothing for nano-particles, since this technology is being used in many small manufacturing facilities, without knowledge of how resistant clothing is to permeation of these particles in solution or as solid particles. There has been several studies done on respiratory protection since this is a major route of exposure. Once in solution these particles are more soluble and behave differently, based on the solvent properties.

I have been finishing up some permeation studies for a client who needed to test the permeation resistance of select gloves, aprons, suits and boots to a new alternative chemical compound to be used in a polymer process. The data from this study will be used to support a pre-manufacturing notification (PMN) requirement for the EPA. Fortunately I am able to do this work at their facility in a chemical fume hood and laboratory with analytical support. I believe that in the future this will be how most of the permeation studies will be done to keep costs down with limited personnel, equipment and experienced outside contract testing facilities. As for test cells and permeation test consultation, I do want to remind you that both Rich Pesce and I are available to help with orders for test cells and procedures. We also are working on obtaining the new reference neoprene material to test your permeation test system. Hopefully, I should have more information to share after the ASTM and AIHA meetings in June. Happy Spring.

Norm Henry