U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Test Results of Level A Suits to Challenge by Chemical and Biological Warfare Agents and Simulants: Summary Report

NCJ Number
Richard B. Belmonte
Date Published
186 pages
This executive summary presented the results from 12 Occupational Safety and Health Level A suit designs to determine their ability to protect in a chemical or biological environment.
In 1996, the Department of Defense created the Domestic Preparedness Program. One of the goals of the program was to enhance Federal, State, and local emergency and hazardous material response to nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) terrorism incidents. The particular personal protective equipment (PPE) that would be employed by emergency responders depends upon the situation that they come across and the PPE the responders currently possess. Level A suits are completely encapsulated suits that protect the wearer from liquid, vapor and gaseous chemicals and particulates. This study examined some commonly used Level A suits to determine how well they resist penetration of permeation by chemical agents Sarin (GB) and Mustard (HD), the HD simulant methyl salicylate (MS) and a corn-oil aerosol used to simulate biological or chemical particulates. These suits are tested in new, as received condition. The tests were conducted to determine percutaneous protection only. From these tests, it was possible to arrive at a breakthrough time when a certain amount of agent per unit area permeated through representative swatches of material from the suit. The breakthrough standard for each agent tested was based upon the time it would take for sufficient agent to permeate the suit material to cause a minimal physiological effect in suit wearer. Each suit design was also tested for its overall protection factor on a simulant aerosol (corn oil) environment and 6 to 12 were tested in a HD simulant vapor atmosphere. These protection factors gave the ratio between the challenge concentration outside the suit to the measured concentration inside the suit. This report described the tests, calculated breakthrough times, and presented the results of overall protection factors. The appendices include a list of suits tested in this test program, information on the modified static diffusion test, the system test for the aerosol and vapor simulants, a description of agent penetration analysis for impermeable factors, and tests results.