Residual Oils & Contamination | DuPont™ Nomex® TA Newsletter Volume 4

Independent Study Compares FR Garments After Decontamination

To benefit from the full protection offered by flame-resistant (FR) personal protective equipment (PPE), care must be taken to ensure that the garments are maintained and laundered properly. Residual flammable contamination remaining on an FR PPE garment can increase burn injury to the wearer if exposed to a thermal event.

Independent Study Compares FR Garments After DecontaminationSome PPE applications and work environments can be more challenging to the garments than others. For example, oil and gas exploration activities commonly result in soiled workers’ FR PPE garments. A common reason FR garments are disposed of after only months of use is due to embedded soil and garment wear. In these situations, it is important to understand the nature of the contaminants and how these cleaning challenges can be overcome.

OSHA Regulations

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations require employers to oversee the care and maintenance of FR PPE, even when home laundering is chosen as the means to clean garments used as PPE.

To comply with 1910.132 or 1926.95, the employer can allow home laundering, but the employer cannot simply instruct employees to follow manufacturers’ instructions. Employers must ensure the FR garment is laundered so contaminants Contaminationwill not affect the performance of the garment.

Contamination

Furthermore, OSHA requires employers to conduct a site hazard assessment, which includes understanding contamination cleaning challenges and choosing the best FR PPE option to mitigate potential laundering failures.

Independent Study

An independent study was conducted by the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta to determine the differences in residual oil distribution on and in the fibers after contamination and decontamination, comparing fabric made of Nomex® to other common FR fabrics.

The results showed that the Nomex® fiber retained the lowest amount of contaminants, while the FR cotton/nylon fiber retained the highest amount of contaminants. The conclusions of the study were the same even after five contamination/decontamination cycles.

The highly crystalline structure of Nomex® fiber leads to more soil resistance, with oil and other contaminants staying on the surface rather than penetrating the fibers themselves, which results in ease of decontamination. With FR cotton fibers, the oil not only gets between the cotton fibers, it penetrates the FR cotton fiber, making it very difficult to remove.

Nomex® for Ease of Decontamination

Proper cleaning and care of FR PPE is needed to maintain the full protective performance of the garment. When choosing PPE, consideration of the ease of laundering and care can be beneficial to the overall success of the PPE program and worker safety.

As proven by an independent study, Nomex® fiber releases soils more readily than FR garments made from cotton, regardless of the laundry method that is used.



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