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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed a field kit based on a permeation cup test, to aid in the selection of chemical protective clothing. The operation of the permeation field test kit is based on a gravimetric method. This involves placing a small amount of test chemical in the permeation cup, and weighing the assembled cup. The cup is then removed from the balance and placed on a stand in an inverted position, so that the chemical is in direct contact with the material. The stand allows air to flow across the surface of the material to remove permeating vapor. Periodic weighings are conducted for approximately one hour or other established test period. Cup assembly weight loss data can then be used to determine the permeation resistance of the tested material. Prototype kits were evaluated by the U.S. Fire Administration for their application in hazardous chemical emergency response. Evaluations were conducted at four fire department locations; Sacramento, California; Prince George's County, Maryland; Phoenix, Arizona; and Del Ray Beach, Florida. Each location presented a different set of climatic conditions in terms of humidity and temperature. The test matrix consisted of five chemicals and five materials. Chemicals were chosen to represent a range of volatility while clothing materials were sampled from different types of garments. Triplicate tests were conducted for each material-chemical combination. Improvements were successively made in the kit's design and procedures and also evaluated during the study. The results were analyzed for intrasite and intersite variation as well as being compared to laboratory test data. The study demonstrated the utility of the kit in emergency response applications. Observations from this and related studies have indicated a number of changes to additional applications, changes to kit design, and methods for interpreting the data.
Permeation testing, field testing, protective clothing selection, field test kit, breakthrough time
Division Manager, Barrier and Materials Technology at TRI Environmental, Inc., Austin, TX
President, Biotherm, Inc., Beavercreek, OH
Captain, Phoenix, AZ