Greetings and welcome to my 4th quarterly column for 2011. Fall has arrived and the trees are finally beginning to show their fall colors after all the September rain. Fall also is time for the World Series, but the Phillies let me down, so now I’ll have to switch my sports to football instead.

Fall is the time to think of the change in the weather and the clothes we wear. It is also the time when we look back on the things we have accomplished in protective clothing testing, methods development, technical committee activities and for Rich and I services provided to customers using the permeation test method, test cells and equipment.

First, let me begin by saying that I have been busy doing permeation testing on a number of test chemicals and types of protective clothing for my former employer, primarily in support of EPA regulatory compliance for registering new chemicals to be used in the agriculture business in Europe. The application of herbicides and pesticides for crop protection and protection of agricultural workers from exposure is a safety issue for many developed and undeveloped counties struggling to meet food supplies for growing populations. Recently, a new ISO standard (ISO 27065:2011) updated requirements for the protection of farmers and workers during application of pesticides. The standard allows pesticide manufacturers to indicate on the product label the required level of protection needed; garment manufacturers to produce, certify and sell protective clothing with defined protection levels; and farmers and agricultural workers to buy and use protective clothing according to the pesticide manufacturers’ use requirements. The permeation test data that I generate using the ASTM F739 test method provides the needed information to help select the appropriate type of protective clothing for these new herbicides or pesticides.

Second, in test method development this past year only two new standard test methods were approved. The first new method ASTM F2815, Practice for Chemical Permeation Through Protective Clothing Materials: Testing Data Analysis by Use of a Computer Program, was developed by Subcommittee F23.30, on Chemicals. The computer program described in ASTM F2815 was developed at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The computer program provides a user friendly tool for data analysis that calculates the standardized breakthrough time and permeation rate based on analytical sensitivity and related variables, thus eliminating potential errors. The other new standard, ASTM F2878, Test Method for Protective Clothing Material Resistance to Hypodermic Needle Puncture, was developed b Subcommittee F23.20 on Physical. This method now allows for an appropriate method for comparative analysis of hypodermic needle puncture resistance.

Third, technical committee activities have focused mainly on reviewing and revising existing test methods for updates. One critical activity for ASTM F23.30 on Chemical, has been to come up with a new standard reference material to replace the 16 mil neoprene used originally in development of the ASTM F739 permeation test method. As I reported in my last column, Mylar is being considered as the new reference material because it is stable with time, readily available and has a longer breakthrough time with acetone then neoprene. If this material is selected at the next ASTM F23 meeting scheduled for the week of January 31 – February 2, 2012 in Atlanta, GA it will be used to conduct another round robin test for precision, bias and accuracy statement as required by ASTM. Meanwhile the AIHA Protective Equipment Committee has been busy organizing professional development courses, panel discussions and symposiums for the next AIHA conference in Indianapolis, IL in May 2012.

Finally, I want to report that Rich and I are currently looking into the possibility of collaborating on developing a permeation test system and service for customers interested in setting up their own permeation test systems. Frequently we get requests on how to set up a system and what type of analytical equipment is needed to connect to the permeation test cells to automate it as much as possible. We are exploring options using a gas chromatograph system equipped with a flame ionization detector since this analytical system is easy to configure and attach to the test cells and also allows for detecting volatile organic compounds and solvents. We will keep you posted on the our developments and hopefully have something to share with you for our next column in 2012. So, with that said I want to wish you Happy Holidays and thanks for your support this past year.

Norm Henry