Westex ShieldCXP™ FR Fabric Challenges Status Quo of Laboratory Safety

Posted on May 25, 2016 10:34:10 AM, by Mollie Williams

Open flames and exposure to pyrophoric chemicals put laboratory workers in high-risk situations, and their handling of toxic, corrosive or flammable liquids is routine. These dangers were highlighted in 2008 after a tragic laboratory accident at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) took the life of an undergraduate research assistant. The tragedy prompted the industry to pay more attention to laboratory safety and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Many laboratories transitioned from a non-flame-resistant polyester/cotton lab coat to a flame-resistant (FR) lab coat. However, the garments that were initially available did not repel common laboratory solvents, and therefore, did not provide the necessary level of protection. Another option was to wear an additional layer of protection, typically a chemical-resistant apron, over top of flame-resistant garments when handling certain chemicals. However, this significantly reduced breathability and comfort. 

Before the introduction of Westex ShieldCXP™, personal protective laboratory coats that were both comfortable and protective against flame and inadvertent chemical splash hazards were not available. Without any other options, laboratory workers were forced to compromise protection or comfort. 

The traditional method for protection required a combination of four single-hazard layers. Each laboratory worker could be issued four different laboratory coats: an FR lab coat, a non-FR lab coat, a fluid-resistant lab coat and a rubber apron. Despite the relatively high cost of such a system, laboratory workers are still exposed to high incident risks for various reasons:

  • Proper hazard assessment must be made by the individual wearers before each task;
  • Some systems are uncomfortable and might not be used properly;
  • Purchasing managers might not adequately stock each laboratory for all hazard classes;
  • The apron worn over the top of the FR coat might or not be FR, which will compromise the FR protection the system provides; and
  • Apron solutions don’t offer the same extent of protection that a full lab coat does, exposing more body area to chemical hazards.

Interactions with hazardous chemicals and flames are frequent in laboratories, so an adequate protective coat must be worn correctly and be a solution to multiple risks. Westex ShieldCXP™ shifts this paradigm as a comfortable fabric for daily wear that is at once resistant to flames and inadvertent splash of a variety of solvents and chemicals.

Westex ShieldCXP™ reduces laboratory personal protection equipment from a combination of four single-hazard layers to one simple garment - without compromising comfort. It is the first fabric of its kind to repel a wide variety of acids, bases and organic solvents while maintaining excellent breathability, making it ideal for university and industrial research lab coats. 

Laboratory researchers are praising the technology’s remarkable protection. Craig Merlic, UCLA associate professor of chemistry and director of UC laboratory safety, commented on Westex ShieldCXP™ : “I look at this material as being absolutely transformative and a real game changer in terms of laboratory safety.”

Watch Westex ShieldCXP™ in action as resists the dramatically corrosive, yet common chemical solution, Piranha, and flame resistance to ethanol burn. 



Click here to discover more about Westex ShieldCXP™.


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Mollie Williams

Written by Mollie Williams

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