Chemicals-industry personnel, emergency response and hazardous-waste workers, as well as the general industry can use chemicals giant DuPont’s online tool to determine what type of protective clothing and gear to use for different chemical hazards, says DuPont Protection Technologies business manager Ajen Maharaj.
The company’s Tychem protective clothing provides a durable barrier for 330 different chemicals and mixtures. This enables emergency-response workers and waste-spill containment crews to don these garments and begin containment knowing that the garments provide protection to a wide range of chemicals.
However, knowledge of how protective gear will react to different chemicals and of international best practices when dealing with different chemicals or spills is critical, not only in the effective and efficient handling of spills or chemicals but also in preventing harm to the environment, says Tychem inventor and DuPont expert consultant Dr James Zeigler.
“This is why DuPont is deeply involved with the local industry and end-users to determine how we can meet their needs and ensure we know the industry, as well as engage in issues about these needs by giving expert advice on international best practice,” he says.
For this reason, DuPont offers support and consultation services to customers about the proper use of its garments and equipment, as well as advice on technical specifications for different chemicals and hazards, highlights Maharaj.
Zeigler showed Engineering News a synthetic rubber glove, usually about 500 microns thick and used in the handling of chemicals and petrochemicals, which had been soaked in a liquorice-flavoured liquor. It remained contaminated after being washed because the particles had penetrated the fabric’s matrix.
He then compared this to a 150 micron-thick Tychem glove, which had also been submerged in the liquor alongside the rubber glove, but did not retain the pungent smell after being washed, which indicated that it formed an effective barrier to the contaminant.
“We have recognised the need for effective protective clothing and the industry in South Africa has responded positively to the discussions we have had with firms, specifically about expert support in the use of the garments for various industrial purposes,” he notes.
The Tychem garments and Tyvek fabric have been develop- ed, tested and proved in a host of industrial and emergency applications worldwide, including by DuPont employees and customers. Different garment designs have been adopted for different industries and environ-ments.
“Market education and expert advice play a critical role for DuPont because it is fundamental to get good, credible information into the market and inform companies about the risks. Given the company’s 210-year history, we believe that our advice is well received,” notes Zeigler.
Further, DuPont is currently researching methods to reduce heat stress to workers using these full-body garments or to identify heat stress in indi-viduals before adverse effects are apparent.
“Products on the horizon include combining protective garments to meet combined challenges, such as a chemical fire. We are considering the applications that our customers need and develop our products to meet these needs, which is why effective collaboration with the industry is essential,” he concludes.