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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, either directly or through its Superfund contractors, is a major user of chemical protective clothing. The purpose of this study was to develop estimates for the cost of using this clothing. These estimates can be used to guide purchase decisions and use practices. For example, economic guidelines would assist in decisions pertinent to single-use versus reusable clothing. Eight cost elements were considered: 1) purchase cost, 2) the number of times an item is used, 3) the number of items used per day, 4) cost of decontamination, 5) cost of inspection, 6) cost of maintenance, 7) cost of storage, and 8) cost of disposal. Estimates or assumed inputs for each of these elements were developed based on labor costs, fixed costs, and recurring costs. The cost elements were combined into an economic (mathematical) model having the single output of cost/use. By comparing cost/use for various use scenarios, conclusions are readily reached as to the optimum economics for purchase, use, and reuse of the clothing. In general, clothing should be considered disposable if its purchase cost is less than its average cost per use for the anticipated number of times it will be reused.
protective clothing, economic analysis, decontamination, disposal, limited-use, reusable
Vice President, Arthur D. Little, Inc., Cambridge, MA
Chemical Engineer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Releases Control Branch, RREL, Edison, NJ