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NPPTL  - The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory

NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:

Protective Clothing and Ensembles


NIOSH’s Protective Clothing and Ensembles Program is aimed at protecting the skin from various health hazards that may be encountered in the workplace or during a terrorist attack. The program has evolved over the years to incorporate a broad range of studies of how chemicals seep through barrier materials, leak through small holes, or change the barrier material to reduce its protection.

In addition to field surveys of CPC performance, studies continue to examine ways to detect when chemicals have gotten inside chemical protective clothing (CPC), and how to effectively remove chemicals from protective clothing after it has been contaminated. Future efforts will incorporate advanced protective clothing technologies into fully-integrated, intelligent ensembles for fire fighters and emergency first responders.


Recommendations for Chemical Protective Clothing
Provides assistance in identifying potentially appropriate types of chemical barrier material for protection against skin contact with chemicals.

Interim Recommendations for the Selection and Use of Protective Clothing and Respirators Against Biological Agents
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2002-109 (October 2001)
Protective clothing may be needed to prevent skin exposures and/or contamination of other clothing during exposure to biological agents. The type of protective clothing needed will depend upon the type of agent, concentration, and route of exposure.

NIOSH Interim Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment and Clothing for Flood Response Workers
Provides information on hazards to flood cleanup workers, and guidance for selecting clothing and protective equipment.

NIOSH Publications

A Guide for Evaluating the Performance of Chemical Protective Clothing
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-109 (June 1990)
This guide describes a method by which an industrial hygienist or equivalent safety professional can select appropriate chemical protective clothing (CPC) to protect a worker's skin from contacting chemicals.

Evaluation of the Permea-Tec pads as new technology for the detection of chemical breakthrough in PPC
American Journal of Industrial Medicine Volume 36, Issue S1, 1999.
Permea-Tec Pads (PTP) are a breakthrough indicator that enhance workers' ability to protect themselves from skin exposure to chemicals.

Occupational Safety and Health Guidance Manual for Hazardous Waste Site Activities
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 85-115 (October 1985)
Guidance document for managers responsible for occupational safety and health programs at inactive hazardous waste sites.

Other NIOSH Resources

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-149 (September 2005)
Exposure limits, Respirator Recommendations, First Aid, more...
The Pocket Guide is a source of general industrial hygiene information on several hundred chemicals/classes found in the work environment. Key data provided for each chemical/substance includes name (including synonyms/trade names), structure/formula, CAS/RTECS Numbers, DOT ID, conversion factors, exposure limits, IDLH, chemical and physical properties, measurement methods, personal protection, respirator recommendations, symptoms, and first aid.

National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) - Control Technologies and Personal Protective Equipment

Related NIOSH Topics:

Chemical Safety/MSDS

Emergency Response Resources - Chemical Agent Information

Occupational Latex Allergies

Skin Exposures and Effects

Other Resources

PROJECT HEROES: Homeland Emergency Response Operational and Equipment Systems
PDF icon PDF only (780 kb, 128 pages)
A review of modern fire service hazards and protection needs prepared by the International Association of Fire Fighters under contract with NIOSH.

A Review of Gaps and Limitations in Test Methods for First Responder Protective Clothing and Equipment
PDF icon PDF only (752 kb 101 pages)
This report presents the results of a review aimed at identifying test methods for protective clothing for first responders, as well as identifying areas in which further research is required. Prepared by Dr. Roger L. Barker under contract with NIOSH.

OSHA Technical Manual, Section VIII: Chapter 1 Chemical Protective Clothing
CPC Resources on the OSHA Web Site. Descriptions, selection, guidelines, maintenance, more...


Protective Clothing and Ensembles

workers wearing chemical protective equipment