Fall is here after a long hot summer, leaves are starting to change color, baseball play offs have started and football season is well under way. We also have an important presidential election next month that will hopefully resolve our employment woes and help the economy to recover. This is my fourth quarterly column for 2012 and fortieth edition. I have enjoyed the opportunity to write this column for Pesce Laboratories the past 10 years and keep you informed on the latest on protective clothing testing, methods development and permeation test cells. So now I would like to bring you up to date on what’s happening as we end another year.

First, the protective clothing technical committees ASTM F23 on Protective Clothing and AIHA’s Protective Clothing and Equipment committee are working on plans for the coming year. ASTM F23.30 on Chemicals is still planning to conduct the inter-laboratory round robin tests with neoprene and Mylar according its sub-committee chairman. Samples of these materials have been provided and all that is necessary is to send out them out to the participating laboratories with directions on analytical methods and guidelines for submitting results using the ASTM F739-07 test method. Hopefully this project will be completed early next year. AIHA’s technical committee will not meet until June next year, but is busy planning advanced professional development courses on the Fundamentals of Chemical Protective Clothing throughout industry. The committee also recently learned about efforts initiated by the American Petroleum Institute (API) to provide guidance documentation for selection of personal protective equipment for spill responders and plans to share its expertise with the API to prevent harmful contact with chemicals and hazards.

Speaking about the selection of chemical protective clothing, I am both proud and happy to report that I will be one of four co-authors to work on the publication of the 6 th Edition of the Quick Selection guide to Chemical Protective Clothing to be published by Wiley Inter-Sciences. The intent of this guide has been to assist workers, supervisors, safety and health professionals, spill responders, industrial hygienists and others in the initial selection of protective clothing materials against specific chemical challenges on the job. This is accomplished by the use of color coded tables, which summarize the chemical breakthrough performance of nineteen common barrier materials against almost 800 chemicals organized into 95 chemical classes. In the past I have reviewed this document and contributed to the permeation data on some of the chemicals tested. This 6th Edition will add more data on additional chemicals and also include new data on some of the newer barrier materials produced by manufacturers.

Next, I would like to comment on a recent request we received about potential testing laboratories that test pharmaceutical drugs using the ASTM F23 permeation test cell. While the original ASTM F739 test method was designed to test chemicals by Committee F23 on Protective Clothing, another ASTM Committee D on Rubber began and eventually developed another test method ASTM D6978-05, Standard Practice for Assessment of Resistance of Medical gloves to Permeation by Chemotherapy Drugs. Both methods are capable of determining the resistance of barrier materials to chemicals and drugs, however the D6978- 05 test method specifically addresses concerns about medical gloves used in the healthcare profession. A quick search on the internet indicated that there were several permeation test laboratories that do testing on drugs using the permeation test cell, but they were generally associated with medical research facilities and institutions that can receive and work with regulated drugs. They also did testing on glove manufacturer’s products to provide resistance information for the selection of gloves for their workers. Most glove manufacturers do permeation tests on their own products and provide customers information on the resistance to common chemicals in the work place. In this case, the eventual result of this inquiry was that a test laboratory was found that could do permeation studies on pharmaceutical drugs for the glove manufacturer.

Finally, I would like to share with you a picture of the first permeation cell published in the CRC Handbook of Laboratory Safety in 1972. This cell was used by Adrian Linch a former DuPont industrial hygienist to evaluate the performance of butyl rubber to permeation of aromatic amines used at the Chambers Works plant in New Jersey. He used the cell to demonstrate that butyl rubber offered better resistance to aromatic amines than neoprene.

Adrian Linch’s Original Permeation Cell

Well that is enough for now, but as the holiday season approaches and the year winds down both Rich and I would like to thank you for reading our column and wish you Happy Holidays and New Year.

Norm Henry