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Protective Clothing and Ensembles

General Information

PPE concerns? [PDF - 164 KB]
Do you encounter obstacles in the selection and use of PPE? Call our hotline.

NIOSH Protective Clothing and Ensembles
NIOSH’s Protective Clothing and Ensembles Program is aimed at protecting the skin from various health hazards that may be encountered in the workplace or during a terrorist attack. The program has evolved over the years to incorporate a broad range of studies of how chemicals seep through barrier materials, leak through small holes, or change the barrier material to reduce its protection.

In addition to field surveys of CPC performance, studies continue to examine ways to detect when chemicals have gotten inside chemical protective clothing (CPC), and how to effectively remove chemicals from protective clothing after it has been contaminated. Future efforts will incorporate advanced protective clothing technologies into fully-integrated, intelligent ensembles for fire fighters and emergency first responders.

Permeation Calculator Version 2.4.1
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-143C (2007)
Chemical protective clothing is widely used to protect skin from hazards found in the workplace. It is also available for use during a terrorist attack. Data analysis for chemical protective clothing permeation testing involves a number of equations and experimental factors. Possible calculation errors are critical issues when determining permeation parameters. Additionally, the calculations of some of the permeation parameters are mathematically complex, which are difficult or time-consuming to be accurately calculated without a computer program.

The Permeation Calculator Version 2.4.1 calculates all of the permeation parameters listed in ASTM test method F739, ISO 6529, and ASTM Practice D6978, including standardized breakthrough time, normalized breakthrough detection time, breakthrough detection time, minimum breakthrough detection time (if applicable), steady-state permeation rate, cumulative permeation at a given elapsed time, elapsed time at a given cumulative permeation, average permeation rate, and maximum permeation rate if it is an open loop permeation test. It helps researchers and industrial hygienists avoid labor-intensive hand calculations of the permeation parameters. From a standardization point of view, this practice prevents variability or inconsistency caused by different experimenters thus ensuring identical permeation parameters or results will be obtained from a given permeation test data file. Refer to ASTM F2815 for more detailed information.

Information for Pesticide Handlers

Personal Protective Technology (PPT) Program seeking assistance from pesticide handlers [PDF - 504 KB]
The PPT Program and NPPTL want to know about potential barriers to the proper selection and use of PPE by pesticide handlers and their employers.
En Español [PDF - 401 KB]

Information for Emergency Responders

NIOSH Study Examines Safety, Health Implications of Fire Fighters' Boots
NIOSH Update, December 18, 2008
Do the boots worn by fire fighters unintentionally put some of them at risk, particularly as the population of fire fighters becomes more diverse and one size or style may not fit all? Scientists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) laboratories in Morgantown, WV, and Pittsburgh, PA, are conducting research to understand the physiological and biomechanical effects of boot weight on male and female fire fighters.

Thermal Capacity of Fire Fighting Protective Clothing Report (December 2008)
Disclaimer: This report was prepared by the Center for Research on Textile Protection & Comfort, College of Textiles, North Carolina State University, in collaboration with the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) and the National Institute of Standards and Testing (NIST) It should not be considered a statement of NIOSH policy or of any agency or individual who was involved.

Dr. Howard address at the 2011 IAFF Redmond-Barbera Crossroads Conference YouTube video

PPE for Emergency Responders

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards

NIOSH Science Blog: Improved Criteria for Emergency Medical Protective Clothing
January 20, 2009
NIOSH research has led to revised standards for personal protective equipment for EMS workers and, in turn, the development of new equipment and products providing a level of protection not previously available to the nation's EMS responders.

Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) Information
To report any PASS malfunctions and other problems with PASS functioning to NIOSH-NPPTL, send an email to: Please review the PASS Information Document [PDF - 20 KB] and provide the contact information listed before submitting your request.

A User Notice has been provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): Pass Alarm signals can fail at high temperatures, Dec. 6, 2005.

A User Notice is a written notice provided to inform users of a condition or risk that may exist with a NIOSH-certified product. NIOSH has reviewed and concurs with the facts in the user notice as of the date indicated on the NIOSH website.

Disclaimer: Links to non-Federal organizations do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations, their products, or programs by NIOSH and none should be inferred. NIOSH is not responsible for the content of the individual organization web pages found at these links. They are provided solely as a service to our users. A NIOSH certificate of approval is not an endorsement of the respirator by NIOSH. Such endorsements are not to be stated or implied by manufacturers in advertisements or other publicity. NIOSH certification represents that the equipment has met the requirements of Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 84.

Guidance Documents for Protecting Emergency Responders

Information for Healthcare Workers

Barriers to Selection and Use of PPE in Healthcare [PDF - 134 KB]
NPPTL is interested in learning more about the potential barriers to the proper selection and use of personal protective equipment by healthcare workers.

Respirator Awareness: Your Health May Depend On It
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-138 (June 2013) Español
One of the occupational hazards in the healthcare setting is the airborne transmission of certain infectious diseases. The potential of exposure is not limited to physicians, nurses, and support personnel in direct patient care. It extends to those delivering food, cleaning patient rooms, and performing maintenance. Anyone working in areas with patients infected with airborne-transmissible diseases is potentially at risk.

Other Resources

Links to Other Protective Technology Sites

Eye Safety

Noise and Hearing Loss Protection


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