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 June 2007
Tech News

Committee on Protective Clothing Launches Development of Two Proposed Standards

Photo Compliments of Delta Protection, a Bacou Dalloz Company

Two proposed new standards currently being developed by ASTM International Committee F23 on Protective Clothing will each contribute to the safety of protective clothing. Interested parties are invited to participate in the development of both proposed standards, which are WK14247, Specification for Air-Fed Protective Ensembles, and WK14442, Antimicrobial Activity of Textiles Following Multiple Launderings with Bleach.

Committee F23 meeting and ASTM International staff manager contact information can be found at the end of this story.

WK14247, Specification for Air-Fed Protective Ensembles

Subcommittee F23.30 on Chemicals invites users and manufacturers of air-fed protective ensembles to participate in the development of a proposed new standard, WK14247. This proposed specification would establish design, performance, documentation, labeling and certification requirements for protective ensembles that rely on principal air supply to the wearer via an air line or air filtered directly into the ensemble.

Air-fed protective ensembles include clothing and equipment items needed for dermal and respiratory protection, including protective suits, gloves, footwear and eye/face protection. However, unlike other protective ensembles, air-fed ensembles do not use respiratory protective devices such as self-contained breathing apparatus, air-purifying respirators and supplied air respirators.

These types of respirators normally have a tight-fitting face piece that provides inhalation hazard protection and dermal exposure protection to the face, eyes, nose and mouth. Instead, air-fed protective ensembles are worn without the use of a separate respirator and the wearer breathes supplied air or filtered air inside the protective suit. The entire suit serves as the respiratory protective device as well as providing dermal exposure protection to the wearer.

Supplied-air ensembles are currently being used in a variety of applications. The U.S. Department of Energy uses supplied-air ensembles to protect workers in the nuclear industry from respiratory and dermal hazards, while the U.S. Department of Defense uses them for work with Biosafety Level 4 biological hazards in accordance with 32 CFR 627, “The Biological Defense Safety Program, Technical Safety Requirements.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends a full-body supplied-air suit for use in Biosafety Level 4 laboratories for work conducted in Class II biological safety cabinets. In addition, supplied-air ensembles are used in the manufacturing of potent compounds in the pharmaceutical industry.

Despite all of these applications, performance criteria and specifications for air-fed protective ensembles do not currently exist. Both the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense have expressed an interest in the development of an air-fed protective ensemble specification that addresses minimum performance criteria as a respiratory protective device and as a protective ensemble providing chemical/biological/radiological particulate and physical hazard protection to the wearer.

The objective of WK14247 is to develop specifications for air-fed protective ensembles that address both inhalation and dermal performance criteria. The proposed specification will combine National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health certification criteria for respirators with separate criteria for suit, glove, footwear and eye/face protection items, materials and components. WK14247 will also provide detailed labeling and certification requirements.

ASTM International and NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory have an approved memorandum of understanding to facilitate cooperation involving the determination of performance requirements and development of test methods, product specifications, practices, guides and terminology related to worker and emergency responder protective clothing and equipment. NPPTL conducts NIOSH’s longstanding program for testing and approving respirators. NPPTL is currently working to establish respirator certification criteria for air-fed protective ensembles under the Code of Federal Regulations. While the respirator certification criteria will be the responsibility of NPPTL, the proposed ASTM specification will incorporate the physical performance and design criteria for air-fed protective ensembles. In addition, the proposed specification will include certification criteria that will require ensembles to be approved to the NIOSH respirator requirements before certification to the ASTM specification can be obtained.

NPPTL staff play an active role on Committee F23 and its related committees. Angie Shepherd, general engineer with NPPTL, will chair the task group developing the specification.


Technical Information: Angie M. Shepherd, Task Group F23.30 chair, NIOSH/NPPTL, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Phone: 412/386-5245

WK14442, Antimicrobial Activity of Textiles Following Launderings with Bleach

Antimicrobial treatments often are applied to textiles to impart durable efficacy, reducing the survival and growth of microorganisms on the textile. A proposed new ASTM standard, WK14442, under the jurisdiction of F23’s biological subcommittee, F23.40, would ensure these antimicrobial agents would continue to work throughout a garment’s life span.

“Over the last 10 years, the industry has developed many antimicrobial solutions for textiles from a variety of different technologies,” says Tom Tantillo, director of development, Milliken & Co. Workwear Fabrics, and F23.40 member. “These solutions are often deficient in two very important areas: 1) durability over the life span of the product, and 2) compatibility with industrial laundry processing.”

Tantillo says that the development of more durable antimicrobials, as well as those that are compatible with high pH conditions and small amounts of caustic chlorine bleach has created a need to show effective performance of the life of a product under conditions that are typical in actual use.

“Users can be assured they are getting acceptable protection from products that have met the conditions of WK14442,” says Tantillo. “Too often, the antimicrobial products on the market may test well at five to 10 washes, but within a short period of time, they are no longer performing. Passing the tests in this proposed standard to measure antimicrobial efficacy would demonstrate that a product is effective well into its useful life as opposed to when it is new or only for a few washes.”

WK14442 would propose testing antimicrobial efficacy after 25, 50 and 75 standard washes. There would be two types of wash standards, one for industrial use and one for home use; both would incorporate the use of bleach as an option to simulate the treatment that is typically found in most industrial laundries.

Performance textile suppliers, industrial laundries, security and emergency personnel, trade organizations, consumer groups and other end users are among those who would be able to use WK14442 to ensure that the products they manufacture, distribute and use are effective for durable protection against microbial growth on their textile products.

Subcommittee F23.40 welcomes participation in the development of WK14442. “We believe the participation of those interested in durable antimicrobials for textile products and in raising the bar for performance standards will be necessary for the successful creation of this standard,” says Travis Greer, senior business developer, Milliken and Company, and F23.40 member. //


Technical Information: Thomas Tantillo, Milliken & Co. Workwear Fabrics, Spartanburg, S.C.
Phone: 864/503-6435

ASTM Staff: Stephen Mawn
Phone: 610/832-9726

Upcoming Meeting:
June 26-28
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