For application involving the handling hazardous substances, an important piece of PPE is Chemical Protective Clothing (CPC). CPC is protective gear designed to prevent chemicals from coming into direct contact with human skin. Some workplace chemicals may present hazards simply upon dermal contact, others present dangers if they're ingested or inhaled.
Chemical Protective Clothing includes all clothing that can provide a barrier between hazardous substances and skin. Not all materials can effectively prevent chemical contact; depending on the chemical, some materials may breakdown in a matter of seconds, allowing almost instant contact with the skin. Chemical Protective Clothing materials are evaluated in terms of breakthrough time, or how long it takes a chemical (under continuous contact conditions) to break through the fabric of the clothing.
Some chemical protective clothing is made of specially developed materials to withstand the strongest chemicals. Ranging in thickness from 15 to 30 mm, CPCs are tested against as many as 260 chemicals to determine breakthrough time. Many full-body suits are brightly colored, as well, to increase visibility in poor lighting.
Though many CPCs are designed for protection against gaseous chemicals as well as liquids and solids, in many dangerous situations, more protective gear is synonymous with reduced risk. There are fully encapsulated, Level A suits available for protection beyond your protection. Some such suits are constructed from aluminized fiberglass, and include attached gloves and sock boots.
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