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Participation Needed for New Radiological Protective Clothing Subcommittee

A new subcommittee, F23.70 on Radiological Hazards, will focus on standards for clothing that protects the wearer from radiation. Professionals involved with radioactive materials, instruments, waste and emergency response, as well as government representatives, particularly from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency, are needed to participate in the new group’s work.

The new subcommittee would initially provide a guide to selecting radiological protective clothing based on current knowledge, according to F23.70 chair Norman Henry, senior research chemist and industrial hygiene consultant at the Stine-Haskell Research Center, DuPont Company, Newark, Del. “The nuclear power industry has a wealth of information on protective clothing that could be shared with other users, particularly those responding to an emergency,” Henry says. Other groups who would benefit include medical technicians working around radioactive equipment, radioactive waste handlers, and emergency responders.

There is also interest in standardizing the test methods by which protective clothing for radiological protection is tested. Different approaches are currently used that create confusion in the marketplace within some industries. ASTM’s strong background in standardized test methods will be tapped for this effort. Such test methods could become the basis for manufacturer claims and future product specifications.

Subcommittee F23.70 will identify needs, current practices and available clothing materials used in workplaces where radioactive materials are found, and will develop standard methods, guides, specifications and practices on their subject, including documents that will cover whole clothing performance from garments to gloves to footwear. For each and every standard, the goal is to help ensure protection from radiological hazards.

Henry comments that one of the principle concerns in radiation protection is shielding. Clothing is a barrier material and will provide shielding, however, the degree of protection required depends on the energy of the radioactivity and its physical state. Radioactive materials mainly exist as alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and X-rays, all with different penetrating power. Selecting appropriate clothing means offering full-body protection if the radioactive material is a gas or liquid, and protecting extremities from higher energy gamma and X-rays. Usually, lead-lined clothing such as aprons and suits is used for this purpose. However, there are an increasing number of claims for lead-free products that need to be validated through standard test methods and specifications.

For further technical information, contact Norman Henry, Stine-Haskell Research Center, DuPont Company, Newark, Del. (phone: 302/366-5250). Subcommittee F23.70 will meet from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on January 15 during the January 14 to 16 meetings of ASTM Committee F23, at the Committee Week in Tampa, Fla. For membership or meeting details, contact Stephen Mawn, F23 manager, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9726). //

Copyright 2004, ASTM International