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HAZMAT In-Use Monitoring

The wearer must understand all aspects of the clothing operation and its limitations; this is especially important for fully-encapsulating ensembles where misuse could potentially result in suffocation. During equipment use, workers should be encouraged to report any perceived problems or difficulties to their supervisors). These malfunctions include, but are not limited to:

· Degradation of the protective ensemble.
· Perception of odors.
· Skin irritation.
· Unusual residues on PPE.
· Discomfort.
· Resistance to breathing.
· Fatigue due to respirator use.
· Interference with vision or communication.
· Restriction of movement.
· Personal responses such as rapid pulse, nausea, and chest pain.

If a supplied-air respirator is being used, all hazards that might endanger the integrity of the air line should be removed from the working area prior to use. During use, air lines should be kept as short as possible and other workers and vehicles should be excluded from the area.

Doffing an HAZMAT Ensemble

Exact procedures for removing fully-encapsulating suit/SCBA ensembles must be established and followed in order to prevent contaminant migration from the work area and transfer of contaminants to the wearer's body, the doffing assistant, and others. Sample doffing procedures are provided in HAZWOPER Table 8-8. These procedures should be performed only after decontamination of the suited worker. They require a suitably attired assistant. Throughout the procedures, both worker and assistant should avoid any direct contact with the outside surface of the suit.

Clothing Reuse

Chemicals that have begun to permeate clothing during use may not be removed during decontamination and may continue to diffuse through the material towards the inside surface, presenting the hazard of direct skin contact to the next person who uses the clothing. Where such potential hazards may develop, clothing should be checked inside and out for discoloration or other evidence of contamination (see next section, Inspection). This is particularly important for fully encapsulating suits, which are generally subject to reuse due to their cost. Note, however, that negative (i.e., no chemical found) test results do not necessarily preclude the possibility that some absorbed chemical will reach the suit's interior.

At present, little documentation exists regarding clothing reuse. Reuse decisions must consider the known factors of permeation rates as well as the toxicity of the contaminant(s). In fact, unless extreme care is taken to ensure that clothing is properly decontaminated and that the
decontamination does not degrade the material, the reuse of chemical protective clothing that has been contaminated with toxic chemicals is not advisable.

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