NC170: Personal Protective Technologies for Current and Emerging Occupational and Environmental Hazards

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

NC170: Personal Protective Technologies for Current and Emerging Occupational and Environmental Hazards

Duration: 10/01/2012 to 09/30/2017

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

As first responders, health professionals, military personnel, and industrial workers perform their job tasks in hazardous environments, the systems they wear for protection offer both functional benefits and challenges. Personal protective equipment makes serving in hazardous environments possible, yet can interfere with the ability of the worker to perform tasks. Research and development of materials and product designs for PPE generally are critical to our nation's welfare, security, and ability to compete in a global economy. Providing effective PPE for firefighters, first responders, pesticide handlers and professionals such as doctors and medical technicians are necessary both to protect citizens in these roles and to increase their effectiveness. The U.S. industry that manufactures protective materials, clothing, and equipment currently leads the world in innovation and production, and needs effective research and development to maintain this position.

Shortcomings of one category of protective clothing can be seen in firefighting: of the 1.15million firefighters that protected the US in 2009, 78,150 were injured on the job. Between 2003 and 2006, 20% of total injuries were to the arm and hand, and 20% to the foot or leg. 36% of burns happened to the head, and another 29% to the arm or hand. 64% of wound, cut, or bleeding injuries happened to the hand or arm. Although fireground injuries are by far the most common injuries for firefighters, their job duties have transformed significantly over the last three decades: medical or EMS calls are now more than three times as frequent as they were in 1980, and make up 65% of all fire department calls (Source: NFPA). As job duties and work environments change, protective equipment must similarly adapt to meet new needs. We find increasing overlap in functional needs between hazardous occupations, as well as commonality in sources of issues in PPE. Evaluation of PPE in one use context can provide insight, background, and expertise that transfers to other domains.

The development and dissemination of effective PPE requires analysis and research in a wide variety of component areas, including textile and materials science, materials testing and evaluation, anthropometrics and ergonomics, garment design and testing, and outreach and policy-making. Development, evaluation, and dissemination of PPE has been the focus of the NC-170 research group since 1982, and we have become nationally recognized for our leadership and advancement of the state of the art in this area. To date our focus has been on textiles and clothing systems, and we aim to continue to innovate broadly in these areas, with a new focus on problems related to protecting the hands, feet, and head. These areas we find to have particular potential for research and development (as evidenced by the firefighter injury statistics cited above.) Our approach will implement the systems perspective that has produced effective innovation in previous projects to take into account the materials, human factors, design, and dissemination components identified above. Applying our approaches of anthropometric and ergonomic analysis, implementation of new technologies, and community-centric research and outreach we believe will result in significant advances in garment-based PPE as well as PPE for the feet, hands, and head.

Even as occupational conditions grow increasingly diverse and hazardous, new technologies offer the opportunity to impart increased functionality, wearability, and usability to PPE systems. In materials science, the development of new textiles and fiber technologies can better meet the workers functional and comfort needs. In anthropometrics and ergonomic analysis, body scanning and motion capture technology can bring increased speed, accuracy, and insight into the development of design parameters, the design of new systems, and the evaluation of garments and accessories. In garment design, smart materials and electronic components can impart novel functionality to PPE systems and allow the wearers status and needs to be monitored continuously to inform system functions or oversight.

Our group is uniquely positioned to approach problems associated with PPE. We are comprised of members with a wide variety of areas of expertise and of research backgrounds. We have an established track record of successful collaboration, both internally and with community/user groups and external research partners. We have accumulated an impressive array of cutting-edge research equipment and facilities, and have developed expertise in the implementation of these technologies to further the state of the art in PPE. The approach we have described leverages all of these factors to address the design, development, and dissemination of PPE technologies in a process that looks 1) at barriers to acceptance and use of PPE, 2) at design, development and testing of PPE materials and technologies, 3) at development of performance guidelines for PPE components and systems, and 4) at development of novel textiles, materials, and functionality for PPE. Through this approach, we will identify areas of opportunity for research and development in PPE for firefighters, first responders, military personnel, agricultural workers, and medical environments through analysis of current equipment and use and through foundation research in anthropometrics of under-investigated body areas. We will address these identified areas of opportunity to assess and improve protection and human factor performance of PPE and protective clothing through research and product development. We will communicate and standardize these findings through the development of research-based performance guidelines for protective equipment.

Related, Current and Previous Work

The level of complexity when addressing PPE is very different from other engineering fields where a fairly limited range of monolithic materials (i.e. wood, concrete, metal, and ceramics) interface with static monolithic objects (such as the ground, films, particles, fibers). For most products the relationships among the person, the designed object and the environment are less complex than those defining the organically shaped, moving, and breathing human form with metabolic activity and functional needs, and its relationship to the clothing envelope. Many new kinds of data are needed to understand and optimally design PPE. Here we focus on several emerging opportunity areas: development of novel functionality and textile approaches to navigating the tradeoff between comfort and protection, investigation of the human factors that influence wearability and functionality of PPE, and investigation of protection of the extremities (head, hands, feet), which we find to be under-investigated and particularly complex challenges. Finally, we translate research to policy by working to develop research-based standards for PPE and extend that knowledge to the end users through educational resources and programs.

Development of Novel Textiles, Materials, and Functionality for PPE

Ongoing global conflicts and the use of chemical weapons require the advancement of personal protective apparel. At home, medical workers, emergency responders, and pesticide handlers face similar hazards in their daily tasks. Technological advances and new materials can mediate some of the more difficult challenges of these environments. Here, we will focus on two specific areas of development in PPE materials and functionality: improving moisture transport and breathability in protective textiles for chemical and biological hazards while facilitating self-decontamination, and introducing novel functionality into PPE materials through embedded sensing.

Current protective clothing materials and uniforms only serve as barriers to biological and chemical contaminants, preventing penetration. Such a functional performance works well for the clothing as a defensive strategy but creates two concerns. First, the materials are basically non-breathable and non-permeable to moisture vapor, which can easily generate heat stress to wearers. Second, the external surfaces of clothing materials are contaminated during usage and therefore can become sources of contamination. Therefore, development of breathable self-decontaminating and self-detoxifying clothing materials is extremely important for improving personal protection of the professionals, particularly the emergency workers who are at high risks at their job positions.

Microfibrous and nanofibrous functionalized, self-decontaminating membranes with engineered pore structures can be applied to protective apparel to prevent penetration of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) while allowing moisture vapor to wick through the garment. Current garments that protect against CWAs such as distilled mustard, lewisite, tabun, sarin, soman, and O-ethyl S-[2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl] methylphosphonothioate, a highly toxic nerve agent commonly known as VX, are mostly composed of bulky impermeable barrier materials that do not allow chemicals to penetrate within the garment, nor do they allow moisture, mainly in the form of perspiration, to escape (Bartelt-Hunt, 2008). As a result, these protective suits lack provisions for thermal comfort in extreme hot and cold environments and cannot be worn for extended periods of time. Their bulkiness reduces functionality, particularly in gloves which limit dexterity and therefore reduce the ability of the wearer to accomplish tasks. After CWA exposure, the protective garments must be decontaminated before doffing, and they are disposed of as hazardous waste to prevent further contamination. A breathable, self-decontaminating material would improve the functionality, performance, re-useability, and disposal of chemical protective garments.

NY has developed new materials with microdenier fiber membranes that give improved protection while maintaining high air and moisture vapor transport for higher thermal comfort in hot, humid environments that can be used in new product development (Lange, & Obendorf, 2011; Lee & Obendorf, 2007a; Lee & Obendorf, 2007b; Lee & Obendorf, 2007c; Tan & Obendorf 2007; Dixit, Tewari, & Obendorf, 2009; Dixit, Tewari, & Obendorf, 2010). Nanofibers with high loads of catalytic materials and biocides have also been developed as well as scalable methodology to produce highly conformal coatings of functional particles without affecting the breathability of the textile substrate (Dong, 2008; Dong & Hinestroza 2009). CA has been developing novel technologies and textile materials for such chemical and biological decontamination functional textiles for many years, and has developed halamine technology for fabric treatments (Sun, 2006; Liu, 2009). In recent years, the research team has produced halamine grafted polypropylene nanofibers and membranes that can provide rechargeable, durable, rapid and powerful biocidal and oxidative chemical detoxification functions (Badrossamay, 2009a, 2009b, 2009c, 2010). In addition to the halamine chemistry, the team has developed an environmentally friendly technology using some anthraquinone dye structures as photo-induced chemical and biological agents (Hong, 2010; Liu, 2011).

In the proposed project, NY will explore the effects of fiber morphology in combination with varying catalysts to create a comfortable and functional material. CA will continue the work of photo-induced biological and chemical functional materials and develop the materials with photo-induced self-cleaning materials with an without onsite light exposure for biomedical and pesticide protection applications.

In the last decade significant advances in conductive textiles and yarns, coupled with similar advances in electronic hardware and sensing techniques, have given rise to a new class of textile materials with embedded sensing capability. MN has explored the development and application of sensing techniques like pressure-sensing through electro-active polymer coatings (Dunne, Brady, Diamond, & Smyth, 2005), bend-sensing using plastic optical fibers (Dunne, Walsh, Smyth, & Caulfield, 2008), and implementation of packaged electronic sensors in textile structures (Dunne, Ashdown, & Smyth, 2005). Such techniques offer significant new functionality to PPE: the ability to monitor the activity and physiological condition of the wearer continuously. This functionality is useful in many areas of personal protection to inform the status of the worker and the development of PPE, but also facilitates a dramatic change in the workflow and conditions of medical professionals and medical environments. Continuous ambulatory monitoring of body position, movement, and physiology offers a paradigm shift for healthcare.

In the proposed project, MN will focus on the development of new textile-integrated sensing techniques for detecting body position and movement and physiological signals.

Human factor barriers to PPE functionality and wearability

The human factors that influence wearability and functionality of PPE are complex, and include elements such as ergonomics, weight bearing and load distribution, mobility and movement, thermal balance, sizing and fit, and physical comfort. Our group has established many innovative techniques for evaluating the human factors of PPE and garment systems, using emerging tools like 3D body scanning and motion capture for anthropometric and ergonomic analysis.

The use of 3D anthropometry is a relatively new field of research in the areas of human factors and apparel design research. NY has conducted numerous studies of apparel fit and function using 3D body scan technology. Visual analysis of fit (Song & Ashdown, 2010), comparison of clothed and unclothed scans using slice analysis (Nam, Branson, Ashdown, Cao, & Carnrite, 2011), studies of apparel function of wearers in active positions (Boorady, Rucker, Haise, & Ashdown, 2009), and comparison of anthropometric data in standard and active body positions (Choi & Ashdown, 2010) are examples of the various studies from this research group. Studies of active body position were conducted for the lower body (Choi & Ashdown, 2010) and the upper body (Lee & Ashdown, 2005). A study of body posture using the 3D scanner was also conducted (Na & Ashdown, 2008). Studies of user needs for functional clothing have been conducted using analysis of data from focus group meetings of firefighters and of older women (Paek & Ashdown 2009). NY has also addressed issues of sizing and fit in multiple studies (Ashdown, 2007; Ashdown & Loker, 2010; Ng, Ashdown, & Chan, 2007).

IA also has conducted studies for the comparison of objective and subjective fit analysis using 3D body scanning technology (Lee & Park, 2011) and studies for the exploration of integrative approaches between 3D body scanner and motion capture system in apparel research (Zong & Lee, 2011).

Previous study by OK (Park, 2011) of lower body mobility evaluation while wearing heavy protective garments and carrying a load shows that an increase in the weight of the garment and the carried load significantly decreases walking efficiency resulting in changes in gait patterns and range of motion at each joint, early muscle fatigue and discomfort. The study also shows that an increase in garment weight changes plantar pressure distribution, which suggests a high possibility of foot blisters and musculoskeletal injuries causing safety issues and decreased work efficiency.

MN has pioneered a new technique of measuring the movement of garments over the body surface (Dunne, Gioberto, & Koo, 2011), which employs 3D motion-capture techniques with an animatronic running mannequin. This technique is useful in understanding proximity of garments to the body surface during movement, as well as the analysis of factors such as garment positioning and drift. MNs previously mentioned work developeding textile-integrated sensing techniques for monitoring body and garment position using optical bend sensors, stretch sensors, and strain or compression sensors have been implemented in ergonomic analysis of body position and movement (Dunne, Brady, Diamond, & Smyth, 2005; Dunne, Walsh, Smyth & Caulfield, 2008).

In addition to quantitative studies, we have also conducted multi state qualitative and design research to assess user needs for agricultural workers and for firefighters (Boorady, Rucker, Haise, & Ashdown, S.P., 2009; Barker, Boorady, Lin, Lee, Esponnette, & Ashdow., 2011; Barker, Boorady, Lin, & Lee, 2010). We have developed a new design for a protective coverall using a collaborative design process (Ashdown & Bye, 2009), and are currently doing field tests of this design in NY, HI, CA, and CO. Fit tests of the coverall are planned in NY, MN, and IA in the coming year.

PPE for the hands, feet, and head

The extremities offer unique challenges for the analysis and design of PPE. For example, the hand is both the area of the body most likely to be exposed to hazards, and the functional unit that makes the presence of the person (as opposed to a robot) in a hazardous environment necessary. The hand is a complex unit that provides both flexible and powerful manipulative functions, and is ideally also a sensing tool that provides kinesthetic feedback from an activity. Gloves protect hands from many potential injuries ranging from thermal challenges, cuts or other traumas, chemicals that can permeate the skin, and harmful microrganisms. However, the use of ill fitting or badly designed gloves reduces manual dexterity which can contribute to inability to function effectively, and accidents. Improper selection and use of protective gloves by workers looking for increased dexterity and comfort can result in hazardous exposure and injuries to the hands, particularly for occupational and emergency workers. Protection of hands from various hazards while providing best fit and effective wearing conditions are two competing aspects of the design of gloves. Only very basic studies have been conducted on 3D hand anthropometry (Rodgers, Barr, Kasemsontitum, & Rempel, 2008; Kasai, Kouchi, Miyata, & Mochimaru, 2003), but the tools and methods exist for reliable collection of 3D data, and the analysis of the hand, the glove, and the fit interface between the active hand and the glove.

The feet and the head offer similar challenges. Here we propose a detailed analysis of the anthropometrics and ergonomics of PPE in these areas to parallel that of the whole-body PPE. Many of the techniques described above will be applicable to the localized environment (e.g. body-scanning and motion-capture techniques, application of wearable sensors to analysis and development). OSU has completed one project (Petrova & Peksoz, 2010) comparing prototype gloves to an existing firefighter glove available on the market using standard, modified standard tests as well as tests developed for the purpose of evaluating fit, mobility, flexibility and effect on dexterity.

Research work (Park & Curwen, under review) by the PI in CO evinced the influence of obesity on foot morphological changes. With the use of 3D foot scanning technology, this study determined that the overweight/obese subjects have different foot morphology from the normal weight subjects; their feet tend to be overall longer and wider and more voluminous in forefeet than the normal weight. This finding indicates that the increment of plantar pressure on the feet tends to deform human foot shape and size. Further, Park & DeLong (2009a; 2009b) investigated practical implementation of 3D virtual sampling technology in the footwear manufacturing industry. Additionally, Park & Curwen (2011) identified internal and external variables that affect the mechanism of footwear comfort and performance evaluation. Yan & Parks study (2011) affirmed the positive impacts of the end-users knowledge about foot measurement methods and footwear purchase guidelines on the formation process of post-purchase satisfaction.

Along with footwear and gloves, we plan to collect information on headwear issues. While this is not an specifically an area of our expertise, anthropometrics of the head and the fit of headgear are extensions of our work in 3D body scanning and developing sizing systems. Headwear protects the most important part of the human body: the head, and by extension, the brain. Head injuries can be devastating and lead to a disabling injury or even death. Helmets can only protect properly the user if they fit properly. Improper fit may lead to reduced sight lines, helmets not remaining securely positioned, and unnecessary weight and bulk. NY has a head scanner that we plan on using to collect data on the head and face. We plan to hold focus group sessions to look into issues on headwear for opportunities to improve.

Development and Communication of PPE standards

Several studies conducted as part of the earlier NC-170 projects served as the basis for the development of ASTM International and ISO standards to measure the penetration of pesticides through textile materials. The standard was used to develop a database for protective clothing materials for pesticide handlers. In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding between University of Maryland Eastern Shore and European Crop Protection Association that made it possible for researchers to have access to exposure study. Laboratory data and worker exposure data were used to develop the initial performance specification draft that was submitted to ASTM International and ISO for consideration as standard. PI from MD serves as the technical contact for pesticide related PPE standards developed by ASTM International and ISO. Both ASTM and ISO performance specifications have been approved as international standards. A draft for conformity assessment standard has been submitted to ASTM F23 committee on Protective Clothing. Our prior work in analysis and development of sizing systems (Ashdown, 2007; Ashdown & Loker, 2010) will inform the establishment of size standards for footwear and gloves in the proposed research.

Extending what is learned through research and product development to appropriate audiences has always been a crucial part of the NC-170 Project. This outreach has taken the form of websites, publications, demonstrations, exhibits and training, and has relied on a broad range of partnerships with Cooperative Extension, manufacturers and user groups. Because proper use of gloves can reduce pesticide exposure to the hands by 80 percent or more, information about hand protection has been included in an ongoing pesticide applicator outreach effort for more than two decades (Stone, et al, 1994; Stone et al, 1997; Stone et al, 2005). Changes in materials and glove design, and the anticipated performance specifications for chemical resistant gloves demand revisions in existing educational materials and teaching approaches. Although the needs of firefighters and medical personnel differ from those of pesticide applicators, many of the best practices learned through years of agricultural trainings can be adapted and applied in other venues.

CRIS searches:

A search of the CRIS site for related multistate research projects or activities was conducted. The multistate project S1026: Textile Materials and Technologies Addressing Energy, Health and Other National Security Issues is developing materials for protection against biological hazards, and also developing bio-based products for fire safety applications. The proposed project SDC345: Biobased Fibrous Materials and Cleaner Technologies for a Sustainable and Environmentally Responsible Textile Industry is proposing a related objective, To develop and evaluate biobased products for health and safety applications. In the materials development work proposed in our project by NY we use a newly discovered set of molecules that have not yet been incorporated into textiles (metal organic frameworks, metal organic polyhedral, and polyoxymetallates). The work from CA proposed in our project is based on halamine and anthraquinone compounds that are quite different from the isoreticular molecules used by other research groups. The approaches and methods of the research groups are different although the goals overlap in some areas.

No projects were found that address the ergonomic, product development, PPE testing, or standards development that we propose.


  1. 1. Examine acceptance and barriers to acceptance of PPE products and protective clothing, including hand, foot, and headwear: A. foundation anthropometric and ergonomic research B. user acceptance and barriers to acceptance in domain areas of fire protection, chemical protection and medical environments.
  2. 2. Assess and improve protection and human factor performance of PPE and protective clothing (including hand, foot, and headwear) through research and product development: A. assessment of HF variables in protective clothing. B. design research and development in domain areas of fire protection, chemical protection, and medical environments.
  3. 3. Develop research-based performance guidelines and standards for personal protective equipment and protective clothing: A. establish performance guidelines and/or standards for domain areas of fire protective footwear and glove protection for pesticide handlers B. establish sizing and fit guidelines for fire protective equipment.
  4. 4. Develop novel functionality in materials for PPE: A. research on novel environmentally friendly materials and technologies that can provide protective functions; B. research on novel textile-integrated sensing techniques C. evaluation of the performance of the materials for personal protective applications.


Objective 1 Examine acceptance and barriers to acceptance of PPE products and protective clothing, including hand, foot, and headwear. Participating States: NY, OK, IA, CO, BUFF, MD We will implement a mixed-methods strategy to explore and identify opportunity areas for PPE development, by conducting quantitative studies of current anthropometric and ergonomic conditions in parallel with qualitative studies of user satisfaction and difficulty in using current PPE solutions. In order to determine the current needs and barriers to effective use of hand, foot, and headwear protection in firefighting, we will conduct anthropometric analyses of the body parts in question, and focus group interviews of firefighters on issues with current equipment. NY, OK, CO, BUFF, and IA will collaborate on a series of focus group interviews with firefighters to assess: perceived protection, fit, comfort, dexterity, mobility, work efficiency, safety, balance, and convenience of donning and doffing with a focus on hand, foot, and head protection. MD will work with NY to obtain similar input from pesticide applicators on glove preferences regarding perceptions of protection, comfort, fit, dexterity, ease of donning and doffing, and availability. The information provided by the users will be used for selection of gloves to be tested in Objective 3. A study of hand anthropometry will be conducted by NY, OK, and IA using 3D scan technology. Participants hands will be scanned in an anthropometric position, a neutral relaxed position, and active grasping and holding positions. Measurement data will be analyzed to establish changes that occur in active positions. IA will also use real-time 3D imaging system to capture hands movements and these data captured in active positions will be analyzed for the functionality between hands and gloves. A parallel study of foot anthropometry will be conducted by CO and BUFF, and BUFF will also conduct an anthropometric study of the head and face. Objective 2: Assess and improve protection and human factor performance of PPE and protective clothing (including hand, foot, and headwear) through research and product development. Participating States: HI, NY, IA, OK, BUFF, MN, CO Research under this objective will apply results from Objective 1 and 2 to improve functionality and investigate new functionality for PPE. HI will collaborate with Chinese Culture University to investigate the application of phase-change heat absorption textiles, called cool textiles. Cool textiles are ideal in the manufacture of gloves and other clothing for fire protection and over-heated working environments. The assessment of heat absorption variables in protective clothing includes gloves will adopt thermal image analysis and differential scanning calorimetry. Data will be collected from laboratory experiments and from human subject testing. The test methods include both standard methods and a thermal image analytical process. After the prototype is developed, HI will work with NY for the human subjects wear tests. These tests will include both laboratory simulation and field study. NY, IA and OK will collaborate in the development of one or two glove prototypes based on results from the focus group meetings and the anthropometric study of active hand positions. We have identified industry collaborators who will provide support for production of prototype gloves. These prototypes will be tested in fit and function tests by comparing them to existing gloves on the market. Participants will assess fit and comfort, and will perform a series of dexterity tests in each glove model for comparison. IA will collaborate with NY and OK in analysis of glove function, fit and mobility using 3D scanning, motion capture, real-time 3D imaging system, and an environmental chamber.OK will also perform similar fit and mobility tests for headgear and other garments developed in the course of the project. Anthropometry of the foot, static balance analysis, dynamic plantar pressure and gait analysis will be executed through human performance laboratory tests with firefighters. CO and BUFF will conduct 3D foot scanning and CO will augment with static balance analysis. NY will assess the change in gait patterns and plantar pressure distribution while performing, in given garment conditions, specific tasks such as walking and other firefighters task related movements. Collected data will be statistically analyzed to assess comfort, balance, and mobility related to the firefighter footgear size and fit. MN and CO will explore human factors of protective equipment in medical environments. CO will evaluate patient gowns and explore potential for re-design. MN will apply sensing textiles developed in Objective 2 to ambulatory monitoring of patients and workers. MN will collaborate with NY and CO to further develop methods of assessing the ergonomics of worn PPE systems, including sensor-enabled base layers for detecting motion, pressure, bend, and stretch, and will validate these techniques using motion-capture and 3D body-scanning technology. MN will also investigate novel methods for assessing human comfort in PPE through visual vigilance assessment: a single, objective metric that may facilitate evaluation of sub-conscious or habituated discomfort. Objective 3: Develop research-based performance guidelines and standards for personal protective equipment and protective clothing. Participating states: NY, OK, BUFF, MD, CO, MN, IA, HI Sizing systems for gloves will be investigated by NY and OK, based on the results from the Objective 1 anthropometric study of active hand positions. Seven basic hand dimensions are available for 3,982 men and women from the 1988 anthropometric survey of U.S. Army personnel (ANSUR). These data will be compared to corresponding measurements from the 3D data of the active hand study. From this, the variation of this larger sample of the population can be correlated for the active positions. The recommended sizing system based on these combined data will therefore encompass dimensions needed to accommodate the full range of movements of the hand for the population as a whole. Data will be collected for both males and females, and analyzed to determine whether there are gender based differences in hand anthropometry that will affect glove sizing and fit. BUFF will use a similar method to analyze 3D scans of feet and heads to determine size breaks and conduct a statistical analysis to determine any possible assumptions of measurement linkages to established sizes. Maryland will work with collaborators with expertise in permeation testing and with the crop protection industry to select challenge liquids and development of protocol for measuring permeation of the challenge liquids through a set of glove materials. The initial tests will be conducted using a limited number of gloves. Once permeation through these gloves is determined, the study will be expanded to increase the number of glove materials and reduce the number of challenge liquids. Funds from other sources are being sought to allow development of an extensive database. The data on glove materials available through the three major glove manufacturer websites will be included in the database along with the permeation test data. Gaps will be filled so that we have data that will serve as the basis for development of performance specification for chemical resistant gloves used by pesticide handlers. The hand exposure data collected by the crop protection industry as part of Agricultural Handler Exposure Database (AHED) and the database on glove materials will be used to develop minimum levels for the performance specifications. The PI at Maryland will continue to serve as the technical contact for ISO and ASTM standards during the development of performance specification standards. The technical contact will be responsible for the development of the drafts to be submitted for balloting. Based on analysis of data from Objective 3, CO, NY, OK, BUFF, NY, MN, HI, and IA will collaborate to develop design guidelines through analysis of research from earlier objectives and through wear studies for firefighter protective footgear, gloves, and headgear, to minimize the occupation-related hazards and risks associated with the manufacture and use of the PPE. Efforts will be also made to regulate the suggested design guidelines through ASTM and NFPA. New guidelines, standards and sizing information will be incorporated into existing websites and educational efforts. Objective 4: Develop novel functionality in materials for PPE. Participating states: NY, OK, CA, MN Two areas of new functionality will be explored in this objective: breathable, self-decontaminating textiles for chemical/biological protection and textile-integrated sensing. NY will explore the use of metal oxides, polyoxometalates (POM), metal organic frameworks (MOF), and Metal Organic Polyhedras (MOP) which will be applied or incorporated into or onto the fibers of a conventional fabric or very high surface area nanofibers. These molecules can act as catalysts with the ability to degrade challenge chemicals, resulting in a self-decontaminating material. By making fibers with high surface area to act as an immobilization medium for these catalysts, it is believed that enhanced chemical protection can be achieved, while maintaining the breathability of a conventional fabric. Ideally, the comfort level will be maintained while providing the necessary protection for a soldier against chemical warfare agents, or for an agricultural worker against pesticides. CA will investigate anthraquinone structures with different derivative groups to find the structures that can work on cellulose, protein, nylon and polyester fibers. These compounds will be covalently incorporated onto these fibers and then exposed to UVA (365 nm) and white light. Biocidal and chemical detoxification functions of the treated fabrics will be evaluated under different lighting conditions. Quantitative measurement of hydrogen peroxide generated by the treated fabrics will be conducted by using a titration method. Fabric mechanical properties and comfort performance in terms of air and water vapor transport properties will be measured. OK will conduct an assessment of prototype textiles using standard laboratory testing. For novel prototype materials it may be necessary to develop new methodologies based on the desired performance outcome. MN will focus on the development of textile-integrated techniques for detecting body position and movement. Current methods of sensing position/movement often rely on inertial sensing units (ISUs), which are discrete points arrayed over the body or textile surface. Each ISU requires significant circuitry, rigid structural protection, and a relatively complex data-processing procedure in order to derive position/movement characteristics from accelerations and orientations in 3 dimensions. We propose instead to use stitched, knitted, and woven textile sensors that sense bend and stretch to derive position and movement. These sensors offer significant wearability benefits, and a drastic reduction in require processing. MN will consider novel approaches to implementing these sensors using commercial apparel manufacturing equipment. These sensors will be implemented in Objective 3 for use in protective applications as well as ergonomic assessment of PPE.

Measurement of Progress and Results


  • Output 1: The results of the studies of hand, foot, and head anthropometry will provide data that are currently not available. These data will describe ranges, proportions, variation, and gender differences in hand measurements.
  • Output 2: Prototype gloves designed from these data will provide new combinations of materials, pattern shapes, and construction techniques to address functional deficiencies of current models.
  • Output 3: 3D foot scan data and the change in gait pattern an plantar pressure distribution will provide practical implications for firefighters footgear design.
  • Output 4: Development of novel human factors evaluation techniques using body-sensing and emerging technology will facilitate new understanding of the body/garment relationship and provide inputs to the design process.
  • Output 5: Development of fibers with high surface area that can be used to create self-decontaminating materials while maintaining breathability will advance the state of the art in PPE.
  • Output 6: Anthraquinone compound modified nanofibrous membranes and fabrics with different fiber composions and biocidal and chemical detoxification properties will also advance the state of the art in PPE. Output 7: The results of this research will provide a scientific data pool to serve as the basis for performance criteria for firefighter protective footgear, handwear, and other PPE. This data pool will also provide practical implications for design of PPE for improved fit, comfort and mobility. Output 8: Research activities will result in updated educational materials for users of PPE.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • Outcome 1: Improved glove, footwear, and headgear design will result in improved safety, comfort and ability to function in hazardous conditions for firefighters. Features created for the firefighter gloves, shoes, and helmets will also provide a model for similar PPE. Data from anthropometric studies of the hand, foot and head will benefit designers of PPE for a wide variety of end users
  • Outcome 2: Performance specification standards for gloves will have the potential to be used as the basis for development of certification requirements for gloves worn by pesticide handlers and by fire fighters and others who might encounter very high temperatures at work. This could help in the selection of appropriate gloves.
  • Outcome 3: Availability of information regarding improved glove design, standards, and guidelines will enhance pesticide applicator trainings making it easier for workers to access this information, obtain certification, and comply with regulations.
  • Outcome 4: Novel techniques for assessing the human factors performance of PPE will be beneficial for our target user groups, but will be widely applicable to many other user groups as well as for performance ready-to-wear clothing.
  • Outcome 5: This research will demonstrate the significance of design regulations for firefighter protective footgear, to minimize potential line-of-duty fatalities.
  • Outcome 6: The work on self-detoxifing materials contributes to the growing field of chemically engineered materials aimed at enhancing the safety of medical staff, chemical workers, and first receivers. As well, these new materials offer the potential of improving indoor air quality. Outcome 7: With the growing public health awareness of disease transmissions, cross-infections and malodors caused by microorganisms, use of antimicrobial materials has increased in many application areas. The development of chemically engineered antimicrobial materials can contribute to the effectiveness of protective clothing for medical and chemical workers and first receivers. These materials can also be used for sportswear, underwear and other health related products. Outcome 8: The research on photo-induced self-cleaning materials contributes to the growing field of functional materials that can increase and improve protection of medical and chemical workers, pesticide handlers, and first responders. The development of environmentally friendly self-cleaning materials will be particularly important in preparedness of emerging diseases and terrorist attacks. These materials also have potential applications in consumer products such as sportswear and hygienic materials.


(2012): Methods for capturing and analyzing effective 3D data on active hand anthropometry and assessing comfort through visual vigilance will be developed. Initial focus group meetings will be held with firefighters on glove function. Glove preference information will be collected from pesticide applicators. TiO2 will be incorporated into high surface area porous channeled fibers for enhanced chemical protection. Development of photo-active chemistry of anthraquinone compounds and interactions with different polymeric materials will begin. Prototypes of bend and stretch sensing techniques will be developed and evaluated. Searches and initial applications for external funding will begin.

(2013): The active hand anthropometry study and further firefighter focus group meetings will be conducted. POM , MOF and MOP - network structures on polypropylene (PP) materials will be developed. Development of photo-active chemistry of anthraquinone compounds and interactions with different polymeric materials will continue. Integration of sensing textiles with ergonomic assessment applications will begin. Protocol will be finalized for glove permeation tests. Pursuit of funding sources will continue.

(2014): Glove prototypes will be developed and work will begin on correlating ANSUR data with data from the active hand study. Work will continue on POM , MOF and MOP - network structures on polypropylene (PP) materials. Evaluations of photo-induced self-cleaning properties of various textiles including cotton, wool, nylon, nylon/cotton, PCM textiles (cool textiles), and Nomex will begin. Comparative ergonomic assessment of existing vs. prototype PPE will be completed. Assessment of ergonomics using textile-integrated sensing will be completed.

(2015): Evaluations of photo-induced self-cleaning properties of various textiles including cotton, wool, nylon, nylon/cotton, Nomex will continue. Outcomes of Objective 1 & 2 will be produced. Performance specification draft will be submitted to ASTM for gloves to be used by pesticide handlers. Proposed sizing systems will be completed and new glove prototypes will be tested. POM-network structures will be combined with high surface area polypropylene (PP) fibers.

(2016): All project outputs will be completed and disseminated. Existing websites and other educational materials will be updated as new standards, guidelines, and other relevant research results become available.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

The results of the research conducted for this project will be made available through presentations at national/international meetings, through submissions to refereed and non-refereed publications, special technical publications, and the annual reports published through NIMSS website. In addition, research information will be disseminated through individual interactions with textile companies, PPE manufacturers, and standards organizations such as ASTM and ISO, and through interactions with pesticide applicator agencies to deliver updated information on gloves for pesticide applicators and agricultural workers.


The proposed members of the technical committee for this project are listed in Appendix E. For those states having more than one participant, one member will be designated as the voting member, as determined by that institution or AES director. The organizational structure consists of a chair, a vice chair, and secretary nominated and elected annually; the vice chair serves as chair the next year. Any member of the technical committee can serve as an officer. The chair will appoint subcommittee members as necessary to complete specific tasks. The officers along with the project USDA-CSREES representative and USDA-ARS administrative advisor will serve as the executive committee. The advisors will be non-voting members.

The chair is responsible for notifying the members of the date and place of the annual meeting, preparing an agenda, and presiding over the annual meeting. The chair also will be responsible for writing the annual report (SAES Form 422) for the year he/she serves as chair and filing it with the administrative advisor for distribution, within 60 days of the annual meeting of the technical committee. The vice chair will assume the duties of the chair in the event that the chair cannot do so. The vice chair will provide an annual review of the promotional and administrative items on the project website, and will be responsible for advance planning and organization of meeting sites. He/she will serve as chair for the next year. The secretary will be responsible for taking minutes of the annual meeting and filing them with the administrative advisor for distribution within 30 days of the meeting.

The duties of the technical committee (members in Appendix E) are to coordinate the research and other activities related to the project. The technical committee will meet annually (usually in the fall) for the purposes of coordinating, reporting, and sharing research activities, procedures, and results, analyzing data, and conducting project business. At least one member from each participating state must attend this annual meeting. The administrative advisor will be responsible for sending the technical committee members the necessary authorization for all official meetings.

Subcommittees and meetings may be designated by the chair, if needed, to accomplish various relevant research and administrative tasks, such as research planning and coordination, the development of specific cooperative research procedures, assimilation and analysis of data from contributing scientists, and publication of joint reports.

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Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

Baylor College, Buffalo State College, University of Oregon
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