To most people all protective coveralls look the same and selecting the correct one to offer the best protection against liquid penetration and permeation can be a task in itself.
And so to assess the barrier performance and therefore aid selection, permeation tests (according to EN ISO 6529 – Method A) were conducted to determine the breakthrough times of commonly used chemicals with Tyvek, MPF and SMS – materials commonly used for type 4, 5, and 6 single-use chemical protective clothing.
Liquid penetration is a physical process whereby a liquid penetrates a fabric by passing through pores or holes in the fabric. Permeation is the process by which a hazardous liquid chemical moves through a protective clothing fabric on a molecular level. The resistance of the fabric is measured by the breakthrough time and the rate at which a hazardous chemical permeates and is detected inside surface of fabric.
To conduct the permeation test, two commonly used chemicals were selected. With a breakthrough time of over 480 minutes Tyvek offered a higher barrier than the MPF, while SMS showed immediate breakthrough.
Penetration tests were also conducted according to EN ISO 6530 standard and showed virtually no difference between the three materials, indicating the liquid barrier of the three materials seems to be of equal protection. However, this standard stipulates just one minute of exposure to the hazardous substance, which is rarely the case in working conditions.
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