Raising the Stakes in Nonwoven Performance
From police investigators and medical technicians exposed to blood borne pathogens, to a variety of trained professionals who run the risk of chemical exposure on a daily basis, the clothing these brave women and men wear is sometimes the only thing between their skin and highly hazardous materials and conditions.
Nonwoven and tailored breathable and barrier layer innovations from The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) can open doors to higher levels of textile performance, while also improving comfort.
No One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Protective apparel, a growing market segment, can be divided into six categories, each requiring different levels of protection:
- Category 1, gas tight suits - suits that are intrinsically sealed against environment.
- Category 2, non gas tight positive pressure suits - suits which retain a positive internal pressure to prevent ingress of dusts, liquids or vapors.
- Category 3, liquid tight suits - protect against strong and directional jets of liquid chemical such as spray from a burst pipe under pressure; require a barrier fabric and sealed seams.
- Category 4, spray tight suits - protect against saturation of liquid chemicals, where the volume of liquid builds up on the suit forming pools; also require a barrier fabric and sealed seams.
- Category 5, dry particle suits - for protection against hazardous dusts and any dry particles.
- Category 6, reduced spray suits - for protection against light spray and splashes of liquid chemicals where there is no directional spray or build up of liquid on the suit, but there may be a fine mist of droplets in the atmosphere.
Note: Above are categories generally accepted by the industry.
Delivering on the Essentials
The Dow Hygiene & Medical business has all the right material science know-how and the innovative leadership to help laminators and brand owners raise the bar in the development of high performing protective apparel. Dow understands the essential properties needed:
- Abrasion resistance
- Puncture resistance
- Bursting strength
- Flex cracking resistance
- Hydrostatic head
- Surface resistance
- Fire Resistance
- Barrier properties
- Chemical resistance
Dow also sees the need for other properties not always associated with this marketplace. Of course, the primary job of protective clothing is to "protect" the human body from dangerous substances and conditions. However, in most cases the people inside that protective apparel are performing a job - moving around and working up a sweat. Did you know the difference between "normal" core body temperature and "abnormal" or "high risk" temperature is as little as 9ºF? And, it only takes a body temperature variation of 3ºF to cause fatigue, nausea, and poor decision making.¹
In order for workers to perform at their best, they have to be comfortable too. Dow has innovative material solutions promoting breathability, as measured by the fabric's ability to allow moisture and heat to escape; softness, to avoid skin irritation; and elasticity, for better fit and freedom of movement.