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Protective Clothing and Ensembles

	workers wearing chemical protective equipment

NIOSH’s Protective Clothing and Ensembles Program is aimed at protecting the skin from various health hazards that may be encountered in the workplace or during a terrorist attack. The program has evolved over the years to incorporate a broad range of studies of how chemicals seep through barrier materials, leak through small holes, or change the barrier material to reduce its protection.

In addition to field surveys of CPC performance, studies continue to examine ways to detect when chemicals have gotten inside chemical protective clothing (CPC), and how to effectively remove chemicals from protective clothing after it has been contaminated. Future efforts will incorporate advanced protective clothing technologies into fully-integrated, intelligent ensembles for fire fighters and emergency first responders.


Considerations for Selecting Protective Clothing used in Healthcare for Protection against Microorganisms in Blood and Body Fluids
This document provides an overview of scientific evidence and information on national and international standards, test methods, and specifications for fluid-resistant and impermeable gowns and coveralls used in healthcare. This document focuses on selecting protective clothing primarily on the basis of their barrier properties. It does not address all aspects of garments related to their design, integrity, durability, comfort, and functionality.

Recommendations for Chemical Protective Clothing
Provides assistance in identifying potentially appropriate types of chemical barrier material for protection against skin contact with chemicals.

Provides general guidance for personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers responding in hurricane flood zones.

NIOSH Publications

Respirator Awareness: Your Health May Depend On It
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-138 (June 2013) Español
One of the occupational hazards in the healthcare setting is the airborne transmission of certain infectious diseases. The potential of exposure is not limited to physicians, nurses, and support personnel in direct patient care. It extends to those delivering food, cleaning patient rooms, and performing maintenance. Anyone working in areas with patients infected with airborne-transmissible diseases is potentially at risk.

Recommendations for the Selection and Use of Respirators and Protective Clothing for Protection Against Biological Agents
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2009-132 (April 2009)
Protective clothing may be needed to prevent skin exposures and/or contamination of other clothing during exposure to biological agents. The type of protective clothing needed will depend upon the type of agent, concentration, and route of exposure.

Estimating the Permeation Resistance of Nonporous Barrier Polymers to Sulfur Mustard (HD) and Sarin (GB) Chemical Warfare Agents Using Liquid Simulants
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2008-141 (July 2008)
The purpose of this document is to report the results of the NIOSH Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) Simulant Project.

A Guide for Evaluating the Performance of Chemical Protective Clothing
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-109 (June 1990)
This guide describes a method by which an industrial hygienist or equivalent safety professional can select appropriate chemical protective clothing (CPC) to protect a worker's skin from contacting chemicals.

Occupational Safety and Health Guidance Manual for Hazardous Waste Site Activities
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 85-115 (October 1985)
Guidance document for managers responsible for occupational safety and health programs at inactive hazardous waste sites.

Other NIOSH Resources

The activities of the Personal Protective Technology (PPT) Program are summarized in the form of quad charts. The quad charts provide a quick visual snapshot of the project by providing the 1) objective of the project, 2) key milestones for the project, 3) lists of partners and stakeholders, 4) outputs and outcomes. The quad charts for the PPT Program are separated into three categories to reflect the goals of the Cross-Sector. The PPT Program project distributions for 2009 and 2008 can be viewed by clicking on the year.

Permeation Calculator
NIOSH Publication No. 2007-143c (Version 2.4.1)
Chemical protective clothing is widely used to protect skin from hazards found in the workplace. It is also available for use during a terrorist attack. Data analysis for chemical protective clothing permeation testing involves a number of equations and experimental factors. Possible calculation errors are critical issues when determining permeation parameters. Additionally, the calculations of some of the permeation parameters are mathematically complex, which are difficult or time-consuming to be accurately calculated without a computer program.

The Permeation Calculator Version 2.4.1 calculates all of the permeation parameters listed in ASTM test method F739, ISO 6529, and ASTM Practice D6978, including standardized breakthrough time, normalized breakthrough detection time, breakthrough detection time, minimum breakthrough detection time (if applicable), steady-state permeation rate, cumulative permeation at a given elapsed time, elapsed time at a given cumulative permeation, average permeation rate, and maximum permeation rate if it is an open loop permeation test. It helps researchers and industrial hygienists avoid labor-intensive hand calculations of the permeation parameters. From a standardization point of view, this practice prevents variability or inconsistency caused by different experimenters thus ensuring identical permeation parameters or results will be obtained from a given permeation test data file. Refer to ASTM F2815 for more detailed information .

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
The Pocket Guide is a source of general industrial hygiene information on several hundred chemicals/classes found in the work environment. Key data provided for each chemical/substance includes name (including synonyms/trade names), structure/formula, CAS/RTECS Numbers, DOT ID, conversion factors, exposure limits, IDLH, chemical and physical properties, measurement methods, personal protection, respirator recommendations, symptoms, and first aid.

Other Resources

PROJECT HEROES: Homeland Emergency Response Operational and Equipment Systems [PDF - 780 KB]
A review of modern fire service hazards and protection needs prepared by the International Association of Fire Fighters under contract with NIOSH.

A Review of Gaps and Limitations in Test Methods for First Responder Protective Clothing and Equipment [PDF - 752 KB]
This report presents the results of a review aimed at identifying test methods for protective clothing for first responders, as well as identifying areas in which further research is required. Prepared by Dr. Roger L. Barker under contract with NIOSH.