The HazMat Guys

This bonus episode is jam-packed with brilliant takeaways. Dan Bowen from DuPont explains the process of obtaining a National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) garment certification and what each standard includes. For technical information on any of the garment classes covered in this episode, check out DuPont’s SafeSPEC™ website.

Complete Show Notes

Re-introduction to Dan Bowen

  • Received his B.S. degree in from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1984
  • Currently a Technical Marketing Specialist for DuPont
  • Has worked for DuPont since 1990 and has held positions in technical marketing, product management, sales and research and development across a variety of businesses
  • Helps educate the safety industry on standards, hazards, and protective materials used to protect industrial workers and first responders against chemical and fire hazards
  • Speaks extensively on these topics and utilizes the DuPont Thermo-Man demonstration unit to educate safety professionals and wearers on the performance characteristics of various industrial garment systems

2:05 What Are the Standards a Competent Hazmat Technician Needs to Know to Make a Good Decision?

  • 3 main NFPA standards come into play when we talk about chemical protective apparel for first responders:
    • NFPA 1991 – Standard on Vapor-Protective Ensembles for Hazardous Materials Emergencies and CBRN Terrorism Incidents
      • Think Level A
    • NFPA 1992 – Standard on Liquid Splash-Protective Ensembles and Clothing for Hazardous Materials Emergencies
    • NFPA 1994 – Standard on Protective Ensembles for First Responders to Hazardous Materials and CBRN Terrorism Incidents
      • Squarely focused not on the broad-spectrum hazmat space, but instead on CBRN incident response personnel

3:50 What Happened to NFPA 1993?

  • NFPA 1993 – Standard on Support Function Protective Clothing for Hazardous Chemical Operations
  • NFPA numbers are applied sequentially by the NFPA Commission and don’t indicate when they were created
  • NFPA writes standards for a wide range of industries
  • They keep up with developing technology, new materials, events that lead to new standards, etc. – when bad things happen in the world, NFPA standards committees are quick to respond (i.e. 9/11)

7:10 What Do We Need to Know About these Standards as Operators?

  • You need to realize what these standards are – and what they’re not
  • They’re fairly rigorous quality assurance tests that manufacturers have to pass to have their garments certified
  • ASTM protocol test procedures ensure every independent lab performs testing the same way and certifies the results in the same way
  • However, just because a garment has passed a standard doesn’t mean it can protect you from every single chemical you might encounter – there’s a finite level of chemicals they’ve tested for
  • Use your best judgment and don’t assume you’re protected – remember that these standards and garments offer the minimum level of protection
  • End users can contribute ideas for NFPA standards – committees welcome input from end users, so don’t hesitate to contact them if there are things you’d like to see improved

10:20 Are NFPA Standards Revised More Frequently than the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Is?

  • Standards are sometimes revised and updated quickly and easily, but it can also take a long time if there are a lot of conflicting agendas
  • Standards committees are made up of a wide range of people with expertise – industry, garment manufacturers, military personnel, government personnel, academic institutions, end users, fire departments, etc.
  • The NFPA Committee’s goal is to revise standards on a 5-year cycle, but there’s no hard and fast rule – can be shorter if something significant has changed in the field or longer if it gets bogged down in discussion
  • There has to be 75% consensus for any standard to be ratified
  • No more than one-third of the interest groups listed above can be on the committee at any given time

15:45 NFPA 1991

  • This is the Standard on Vapor-Protective Ensembles for Hazardous Materials Emergencies and CBRN Terrorism Incidents
  • Includes permeation testing, which is a test that measures how much of a chemical is getting through a suit
  • Tests for 21 toxic industrial chemicals and 6 chemical warfare agents
  • Testing for toxic industrial chemicals lasts 1 hour – measures how much of a chemical gets into that suit during that 1 hour
  • When you open a permeation guide or database, you see the number of minutes a particular fabric is rated against for a particular chemical – this is the number of minutes it takes for the chemical to be coming through the fabric at a rate of one-tenth of a microgram per square centimeter per minute
  • It may take longer than 1 hour for the chemical to come through the fabric, but that doesn’t mean it’s not permeating – it’s just not coming through as fast as one-tenth of a microgram per square centimeter per minute
  • In addition to breakthrough time, testing for chemical warfare agents includes cumulative dose measurements for each agent
  • Once you reach a concentration of more than 1.25 micrograms of sarin or 1 microgram of mustard gas, the agent will start to permeate the suit
  • Two optional certifications manufacturers can pass: liquefied gas escape option and flash fire escape option
  • Liquefied gas escape – important because we come into contact with substances that can cause cryogenic damage to our skin or other materials
    • Put into a freezer that has to -13 degrees Fahrenheit or colder and put into direct contact with a block of dry ice
    • Sits on the dry ice for 15 minutes and then undergoes a flex test
    • In a flex test, the material is flexed 100 times (horizontally and twisted) at a rate of 45 flexes per minute
    • If a suit is certified for liquefied gas, it won’t crack when you’re working in very cold temperatures
  • Abrasion test – abrade 25 cycles with a drum abrader with 600 grit sandpaper with 5 pounds worth of weight

23:55 NFPA 1992

  • Standard on Liquid Splash-Protective Ensembles and Clothing for Hazardous Materials Emergencies
  • Two variations of liquid splash-protective suits – hooded (SCBA on the outside) and encapsulated (SCBA on the inside)
  • If the leak is above your armpits, you need to wear an encapsulated suit to keep your SCBA dry
  • Undergoes an incredibly demanding liquid integrity test, but there’s no permeation testing – penetration only
  • This means there’s no real chemical performance standard, which is troublesome if you’re dealing with anything other than dirty water
  • Standards frequently come into play when grant money is involved, and NFPA 1992 in particular

29:00 NFPA 1994

  • Standard on Protective Ensembles for First Responders to Hazardous Materials and CBRN Terrorism Incidents
  • Developed and focused specifically on CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) incidents
  • Intended for people who have to work in a potentially contaminated environment, but don’t have to actually touch the hazard
  • Man in simulant tested (MIST) – surrogate test for chemical warfare agents
    • In this test, a human puts 30 pads on their body and wears the suit in a chamber filled with oil of wintergreen
    • They drag a mannequin, walk, crawl, etc. to simulate what we do on hazmat runs
    • Afterwards, the pads are tested to see whether the oil of wintergreen came through – it’s a surrogate for some of the chemical warfare agents
  • Concentrations are less – permeation testing for NFPA 1994 is measured at 10-20 micrograms per square centimeter per minute
  • Designed for an atmosphere where there are droplets of chemical warfare agents on the skin or the material – not as heavy-duty as NFPA 1991-tested garments

31:10 Updates to NFPA Standards for 2018

  • NFPA 1991 flash fire escape option – all suits now have to be single skin
  • Can’t use adhesive tape like duct or chem tape over a closure system to plug a leak to pass a test
  • All zippers have to have flaps over them
  • Must be able to get your hands in and out of gloves 5 times in 2.5 minutes
  • Added a cumulative concentration (6 micrograms per square centimeter per hour) for toxic industrial chemicals – used to just be for chemical warfare agents
  • Added 2 new chemicals to NFPA 1992 (now 9 total)
  • Added new hazardous materials to the scope of NFPA 1994 testing to address new chemical warfare agents being used
  • Radically expanded the range of options – there used to just be 3 classes of suits in NFPA 1994, but there are now 7 classes
  • Also added concentration of material and range of shower tests to NFPA 1994 to accompany the new classes of suits

35:15 Contacting Dan

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