EPA Protective Clothing Guidelines
The U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) has formulated Level of Protection guidelines to protect the safety and health of individuals involved in the handling of hazardous materials. The Levels of Protection (LOPs) are based on the type of respiratory protection required to ensure the safety of the user under certain specified conditions.
In addition, the EPAs LOPs recommend the protective clothing that users should wear to ensure adequate protection, including what the clothing should consist of and look like, but not necessarily how the various components should perform.
Level A (Vapor or Gas Protection) should include:
- The highest available level of respiratory protection.
- Fully encapsulated chemical suit with breathing apparatus.
Typically, Level A work conditions include:
- A chemical hazard with a sufficiently high vapor pressure to produce gases or vapors that are toxic through skin absorption or are carcinogenic (cancer causing).
- Work conditions that have a high potential (probability) for exposure to very high concentrations of chemical splash, immersion or exposure to chemical vapors.
- Situations that may involve unknown chemicals or chemical combinations (HAZMAT).
Level B (Liquid Splash Protection) should include:
- The same level of respiratory protection is required as in Level A. However, a lesser degree of skin protection is needed than for Level A.
- Level B protection allows for certain areas of exposed skin on the wearer, permitting the use of encapsulating garments that are not “vapor tight.”
At this level, exposure situations will typically be chemical concentrations (below established exposure limits), and workers typically will not be exposed to vapors or gases that are toxic by skin absorption or are carcinogenic.
Level C (Particle or Liquid Splash Protection)
- Workers should have the same level of skin protection as at Level B but a lower level of respiratory protection, namely, air purifying respirators.
- Works should wear one or two piece splash suits with cartridge respirators.
At this level, chemicals are non-hazardous through skin absorption and well below exposure limits.
Level D (No Hazard Protection)
- At this level, no respiratory protection and very little skin protection are needed.
- Coveralls and general safety gear are worn. These include shoes, gloves, and eye and head protection.
At Level D, the work environment has no possibility of contact with hazardous chemicals.