Chemical protective clothing is indispensable in maintaining health and safety in work environments where there are potential threats from chemical, biological, radiation, thermal or nuclear hazards. Furthermore, the importance of protecting against such hazards has risen sharply in recent years. This reflects the fact that a significant number of incidents involve hazardous materials-many of which are life threatening-and this number is growing.
Meanwhile, awareness of the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been raised by the increasingly familiar sight of emergency workers in head-to-toe ensembles during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also led to greater recognition of brands of chemical protective fabrics which are used in the manufacture of workwear for firefighters, medical staff, the military and those who are directly involved with the handling of chemicals on a regular basis. Well known chemical protective fabric brands include: KleenGuard, which is supplied by Kimberly-Clark; Tychem, which is supplied by DuPont; and Tyvek, which is also supplied by DuPont. In the chemical protective clothing field, the market for single-use garments is dominated by 3M, DuPont and Kimberly-Clark while much of the market for reusable garments is dominated by Ansell, Dräger and Respirex International (Respirex).
Looking ahead, future growth in the market for chemical protective clothing will be underpinned by product innovation, stringent occupational safety regulations and the threat of outbreaks of disease and acts of terrorism. As a result, the prospects for this market are brighter than for many other segments of the performance apparel industry.
APPLICATIONS OF CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
THE NEED FOR CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
- Health threatening incidents
- Rising incidence of biological hazards
- Rising incidence of cyber attacks
- Health and safety regulations
CHEMICALS AND THEIR HAZARDS
- Toxic industrial chemicals
- Chemical warfare agents
KEY PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS OF CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
- Chemical penetration
- Chemical permeation
- Chemical degradation
- Other performance features
MATERIALS USED TO PRODUCE CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
- Nonwoven fabrics
- SMS polypropylene nonwoven fabrics
- Nonwoven fabrics coated with or laminated to microporous films
- Flash spun polyethylene nonwoven fabrics
- Woven fabrics
- Impermeable materials
TYPES, METHOD OF SELECTION AND CLASSIFICATION OF CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
- Types of chemical protective clothing
- Single-use garments
- Limited-use garments
- Reusable garments
- Selection of chemical protective clothing
- Classification of chemical protective clothing
CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING ENSEMBLES
- Design of chemical protective clothing
- Accessories used for chemical protection
STANDARDS FOR CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
SPECIALISTS IN CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING AND EXAMPLES OF THEIR PRODUCTS
- 3M: protective coveralls
- Alpha Solway: Chemcre8
- Ansell: AlphaTec
- Asatex: CaseONE
- Delta Plus: Deltatek 5000
- Dräger: CPS 5900
- DuPont: Tychem and Tyvek
- Honeywell: Ne-Hon 5+
- International Enviroguard: MicroGuard
- Kappler: Frontline 500
- Kimberly-Clark: KleenGuard A20 coveralls
- Lakeland Industries: Interceptor Plus
- Respirex International (Respirex): GLS 300C
- MSA Safety: SavOx
List of Tables
Table 1: Classification system for hazardous materials
Table 2: Most common toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) listed by level of hazard
Table 3: Barrier materials used in chemical protective clothing and accessories
Table 4: Manufacturers of materials used in chemical protective clothing
Table 5: Personal protective equipment (PPE): levels of protection
Table 6: Classification of chemical protective garments
Table 7: Types of protective clothing for full body protection
Table 8: Seam constructions commonly used in chemical protective clothing
Table 9: Protective characteristics of Tychem and Tyvek garments
List of Figures
Figure 1: Single-use chemical protective garment
Figure 2: Limited-use chemical protective garment
Figure 3: Reusable chemical protective garment
Figure 4: Chemical protective apron
Figure 5: Chemical protective oversleeves
Figure 6: Chemical protective overboots
The chemical protective clothing market is set to grow faster than many other performance apparel segments, according to this 41-page report Chemical Protective Clothing: Safeguarding Worker Health and Safety.
During 2021-26, the market for chemical protective clothing is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1%.
This forecast is based partly on expectations of rapid industrialisation in many parts of the world and partly on expectations of significant growth in the number of life-threatening incidents involving hazardous materials, including chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies, outbreaks of disease and industrial accidents.
Another major factor behind the forecasts of strong growth will be the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and increased pressure on employers to provide suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers.
In fact, the pandemic has raised awareness of the importance of PPE, and such awareness will be a major driving force behind the market’s future growth.
A further factor behind the strong growth forecasts is the transportation of hazardous materials. In the USA, such transportation is said to be so common that there is a high threat of an accident in which hazardous materials are involved. In 2020 alone, there were 71 injuries and deaths as a result of the transportation of hazardous materials -- which is striking given that there was a slump in transportation during the year as a result of measures taken to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is also a growing threat of cyber attacks which could cause chemical leaks or explosions. In 2020 an audit carried out by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that thousands of US chemical facilities are vulnerable to such attacks and, in response, governments around the world have stepped up funding of personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders.
The US government, in particular, has led the way in this respect. Under the auspices of the US Department of Homeland Security, it has been providing funds to assist “efforts in preventing, protecting against, mitigating, responding to and recovering from acts of terrorism and other threats” and a substantial proportion of these funds have been provided for chemical protective clothing and equipment.
In order to maintain preparedness for incidents involving the accidental release of hazardous materials, whatever the cause, there has been a rising sense of urgency in developing protective clothing for emergency responders.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to greater recognition of brands of chemical protective fabrics which are used in the manufacture of workwear for firefighters, medical staff, the military and those who are directly involved with the handling of chemicals on a regular basis. Such brands include: KleenGuard, which is supplied by Kimberly-Clark; Tychem, which is supplied by DuPont; and Tyvek, which is also supplied by DuPont.
Among suppliers of chemical protective clothing, there are a number of companies with long-established reputations and commanding market positions. For example, the market for single-use chemical protective garments is dominated by 3M, DuPont and Kimberly-Clark while much of the market for reusable chemical protective garments is dominated by Ansell, Dräger and Respirex International (Respirex). Furthermore, the positions of these companies look set to remain strong as demand for chemical protective clothing is expected to remain favourable.
Looking to the future, product innovations will play a pivotal role in driving market growth -- including those based on integrating smart technologies into chemical protective ensembles which will enable wearers to optimise their performances by quickly gauging their workplace hazards and their own physiological states.
- Alpha Solway
- Delta Plus
- International Enviroguard
- Lakeland Industries
- MSA Safety
- Respirex International (Respirex)