The first month of the new year has already passed by and I find myself reflecting on the past and also looking toward the coming year with renewed enthusiasm and commitment to provide you with the latest information on protective clothing testing and evaluation. First, I would like to report on the proceedings of the 8 th ASTM International Symposium on Protective Clothing that was held in Tampa, FL January 13 – 14 th . There were about 100 attendees from around the world and 30 technical presentations given during this two day meeting. There was also a poster session with 20 participants as well. Producers, users and safety professionals from both industry government and academia were there to give an update on the latest research, improvements and standards development in protective clothing. The focus of the symposium was on emerging global needs and marketing issues. Since security is a major global issue today it was not surprising to hear presentations on military, fire fighter and emergency response protective clothing developments. Research on improved products for these users focused on better methods for measuring heat stress, comfort and communication as well as protection. Several papers were presented on comparative studies of standard test methods for cut and puncture resistance. Other papers were presented on clothing standards for the health care industry including surgical gowns and facemasks. It was interesting to note that European standards were emphasizing labeling of protective clothing that successfully passed their test methods for bacterial penetration. NIOSH reported on their recent research efforts to confirm chemical laboratory testing with additional in-use evaluations. The outcome of their research should help make it easier to verify the performance of chemical protective clothing and enhance its use in the workplace.
After the Symposium F23 technical subcommittees met for two days to review task force activities on new methods, specifications, guides and practices. The chemical sub-committee F23.30 on chemical resistance discussed round robin testing initiatives, reviewed existing methods for updates and decided not to pursue particulate test method development. I also proposed a new standard guide for documenting protective clothing recommendations in MSDS’s. A draft copy of this guide will be sent out to a task force for review and comment before the next committee meeting. There also was some discussion about the need for a Teflon permeation test cell. I mentioned that Pesce Lab Sales was in the process of having a Teflon cell developed and made.
In other subcommittee activities, I chaired the new subcommittee F-23.70 on Radiological protective clothing. This committee agreed on a scope to develop and promulgate standards for materials and clothing designed and constructed to protect the body from radiological hazards.
There was a lot of interest in this committee because of the threat of nuclear “dirty bombs” and appropriate protective clothing selection guides for health-care and emergency responders. A member of the new ASTM Committee E54 on Homeland Security was present to give an update on their activities. At the closing Main F23 Committee meeting members were given an assignment to come prepared for the next meeting June 16-17 in Kansas City, MO to have a specification standard for consideration. So, if you have suggestions let me know so that I can share your thoughts as well. Finally, I am also interested in knowing just how much interest there is in the Teflon permeation test cell and whether it is worthwhile to pursue making several?