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Evolution of Coveralls Through Coronavirus Outbreaks

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Incidents of healthcare workers contracting the virus while caring for infected patients happened in the Ebola epidemic 6 years ago and again in the recent Covid-19 outbreak.What have we learned and done to remedy the inadequacy of existing disposable coverall suits?

The Problems with Hooded Coveralls -

Unbearably hot and Restricted Wearer’s Head Movement and Mobility

The disposable coveralls have been popular in shielding against contaminants in workplaces (in environmental remediation, aftermath cleanup, and infection prevention). The classic design has an integrated hood to cover the back of the head and with its elastic edges cover the upper part of forehead. While working, the hood easily pulls away from the wearer’s head. If worn with a full-face respirator, duct tape has to be used to attach its edges to the face shield of the respirator. This worsens the problem of restricting head movement.Some new designs have a larger hood to enable wrapping around the wearer’s face for more protection. However, it severely restricts head movement and mobility. It is more difficult for the wearer to bend their neck or turn their head and quickly causes exhaustion.The heat and humidity build up quickly cause anxiety and dizziness. For reference, wearing hooded coveralls is prohibited when working in confined spaces or on high structures. The updated CDC guidance also recommends the use of coveralls without integrated hoods in epidemic outbreaks.

Workers’ bodies often come in contact with or are held tightly against work objects. To isolate contaminants in liquid or viscous forms, the disposable coveralls need to be made of Tyvek or membrane-laminated or coated nonwoven fabrics to create impermeability. These materials are not breathable and make the wearers hot. On the contrary, workers’ heads and faces rarely ever contact work objects; rather, the heads always stay at a higher position and at a distance.Since heads are more sensitive to heat and humidity, the materials used for making the hoods should be different from that of the body covering. It should have good breathability and need less liquid impermeability. VitaFlex’s Latex-free Elastic Nonwoven Fabrics are the long-awaited breakthrough material that gives an elastic structure while maintaining the breathability and barrier functionality of nonwovens. This enables the making of protective hoods that are soft and stretchy to fit comfortably and securely on the wearer’s head.

The Solution: The practical solution is to wear our soft-stretch hoods with a high-collar coverall suit. Our hoods keep the head protected and cool. They also allow freedom of head movement and wearer mobility. To complete full coverage of the head, the donning sequence is to put on our hood first, followed by goggles to protect the eyes.

In extreme situations, powered air purification respirator (PAPR) provides the most complete coverage for the head. Wearing our hood under the PAPR or hazmat hood provides continuous protection after removal of the contaminated suit. Our Biosafety hoods should be the first PPE put on and the last removed.