In mentioning “corrosives” a distinction must be made for acidic vs. basic (just as with the new GHS, BTW); cotton is cellulose and particularly reactive to acid, wool and particularly leather is attacked by aqueous base. Nylon and polyester may be more base than acid sensitive.
For me, the idea of being able to quickly remove (snap or Velcro closures rather than buttons) a lab coat if splashed or on fire is comforting.
Although cotton may be the best is a fire situation, I read in the original post that corrosives were also in question. Synthetics are better protection for corrosives. There is no one size fits all PPE. It would be best to determine what the biggest risk would be during a lab inspection. Working in the lab carries yet another level of decision making for clothing and PPE.
Mary Beth Lanza
Scientist - Infrared Spectroscopy
Weyerhaeuser Analytical Chemistry
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Thank you Neal. This is data I can use to piece together a compelling story.
Here are relevant data
Heat of Combustion kJ/g
Here are ignition temps
Relative summary of the flammability properties of fibers:
Heat of Combustion
Zipro Wool (Treated with Zirconium, a heavy metal)
Source: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia)
The conclusions are fairly obvious – Polypro and Polyester are solidified gasoline. Mixtures dilute the energy..
When I go to refineries and other “increased risk” locations, I wear only cotton.
In my reactives workshop, I discuss garment choice, in particular bras, underpants, and tee shirts!
It is fun to watch the facial reactions…..
I consider this one of the overlooked topics in lab/ pilot plant safety – I learned this lesson at production plants.
Standard confidentiality terms apply
NEAL LANGERMAN, Ph.D.
ADVANCED CHEMICAL SAFETY, Inc.
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Here, scrubs are reserved for certain groups of people, but that’s a good point. It’s something I wouldn’t have thought to recommend for lab workers just because they are normally associated with these specific groups.
Why do they need to be jeans? How about a set of cotton scrubs. Inexpensive and serve the purpose.
Doing some back to school shopping this weekend, I had an aha moment. My traditional go to “uniform” for doing laboratory inspections has always included jeans. It’s becoming very difficult to find women’s jeans that don’t include some percentage of polyester and spandex (e.g. the magic ratio appears to be something like 70ish% cotton, 2% spandex and the balance being polyester). My assumption is that these blends would not hold up well to contact with corrosives and are not something you would want on your body during a fire situation. I’m wondering if this is something that organizations have had to factor into their training in recent years and if anyone has seen actual data about how the blends hold up against these kinds of hazards.
Kimberly Begley Jeskie, MPH-OSHM
Director, Integrated Operations Support Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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