Scientists from HTX’s CBRNE Centre of Expertise have been awarded the best poster presentation for their research on assessing the performance of protective suits against chemicals at the NBC 2022, 11th symposium on CBRNE threats.
Kemberly Kay, CBRNE Scientist (Research), gave the poster presentation on the study entitled, “Quick Methodology for Assessment of Protective Suit using Hydrochloric Acid”, at the symposium that took place from June 5 to 8 in Lahti, Finland.
The symposium provides an interdisciplinary forum for scientists, industry representatives, and authorities, to share the latest insights on issues related to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) protection. Over 100 participants from 15 countries participated in the symposium, according to the Association for Protection, Rescue, Security and Safety, which organises the tri-annual international symposium.
Protective suit for first responders
Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) suits are used as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for chemical agent response. The HTX study came about when the Singapore Civil Defence Force approached CBRNE CoE to conduct a quick assessment of PPE suits that are donned by first responders to protect them from potential chemical exposure. Chong Yong, Ngoh Li Ee, and May Ong from CBRNE CoE were also involved in the study.
Methodology and results of the study
The study proposed two simple in-house experimental set-ups that can be assembled with existing, common laboratory equipment for an effective and quick estimate of the permeation resistance of PPE against chemical exposure. One set-up was to simulate liquid splash, and the other to simulate vapour exposure.
The team designed a chemical permeation methodology using hydrochloric acid (HCl) to evaluate the protective suit. The two experimental set-ups were trialled on protective suits with different manufacturing dates and challenged with 20%, 30%, and 37% HCl.
The study found that, based on the results from HCl splash, there was no significant difference in the breakthrough times of the suits according to their length of time from manufacturing, except for one of the suits. For vapour exposure, all the suits could offer protection against 20% HCl vapour exposure, and only the most recently manufactured suit could protect against a higher concentration of 30% HCl vapour exposure. All suits could not provide protection against 37% HCl vapour exposure.
“It took several tries to optimise the experimental set-ups,” Kemberly said on the eureka moment of the study. “Fortunately, the experimental set-ups yielded valid results!”
This test method is not comprehensive but can be employed as a quick test for the assessment of PPE clothing to understand if the PPE’s performance has been compromised, Kemberly said.
“With the endorsement of the methodology, it certainly gives the team greater confidence to use this in-house methodology in the future,” said May Ong, Director, CBRNE.
(From left to right) Kemberly Kay, CBRNE Scientist (Research), and Soh Xiaoyun, CBRNE Scientist (Operations), attended the NBC 2022 symposium to keep abreast of the current topics in CBRNE threats (Photo: Association for Protection, Rescue, Security and Safety)