Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine

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VOLUME 25 , ISSUE 1 ( January, 2021 ) > List of Articles

COMMENTARY

Breathability and Safety Testing of Personal Protective Equipment: “Human-comfort” Factor Remains Undefined

Aditya Kapoor, Arvind Kumar Baronia, Afzal Azim, Gaurav Agarwal, Narayan Prasad, Richa Mishra, Vivek Anand Saraswat

Keywords : COVID-19, Comfort fit testing, Healthcare workers, Personal protective equipment

Citation Information : Kapoor A, Baronia AK, Azim A, Agarwal G, Prasad N, Mishra R, Saraswat VA. Breathability and Safety Testing of Personal Protective Equipment: “Human-comfort” Factor Remains Undefined. Indian J Crit Care Med 2021; 25 (1):12-15.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10071-23598

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 18-01-2021

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2021; Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers (P) Ltd.


Abstract

Healthcare systems all over the world have been enormously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare workers (HCWs) taking care of these patients need personal protective equipments (PPEs) standardized for full protection from droplets and aerosols carrying viral load to variable distances. There has been a surge of manufacturers supplying these protective gears in India and regulatory agencies have issued technical specifications pertaining to PPEs focusing solely on synthetic blood penetration tests (SBPTs) and keeping the upper limit of non-woven fabric to 95 g/m2 (GSM). These PPE specifications are silent on air permeability (AP) and water/moisture vapor transmission rate (WVTR/MVTR) of the fabric. As a result, most of the PPE kits, despite having appropriate SBPT certifications from regulatory agencies, have extremely poor permeability and breathability. The acceptability of PPEs by HCWs can be vastly improved when the end-users are proactively invited to participate in “comfort testing” of PPEs before getting issuance of certification for marketing. “Field testing” or “end-user trials” in which HCWs don the PPE and assess it for comfort while performing different types of clinical work, e.g., in intensive care units (ICUs), operation theaters, cath labs, etc., also takes into account a hitherto often ignored “human-comfort-factor” that not only enhances the understanding of HCWs about the need for the PPEs but can also motivate them to use it without worrying about discomfort. We hereby propose that comfort fit testing (COmfort and Material Fit is an Obviously Required Test) should be a part of the mandatory testing and certification process for PPE, so that the industry invests wisely in manufacturing PPE kits that are not only certified for fabric but are also tested for comfort factors.


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