Complete Body Protection: The Benefits and Features of PPE
From the retro-futuristic wastelands of Fallout to the parched landscapes of Mad Max: Fury Road, post-apocalyptic fiction often shares one commonality with real life: an abundance of characters in masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
With that said, it has not always been this way, as—for a long time —PPE seemed to be more prevalent in fiction. Though professionals like doctors and firefighters have always covered their faces for safety, masks were not typically seen on a daily basis–much less the full-body PPE worn in dystopian sci-fi.
But then came the Covid-19 pandemic, and suddenly PPE became a fixture of everyday life for millions of people around the globe.
And even in places where PPE had been worn before, like hospitals, there was a greater demand, leading the PPE industry struggling to keep up with a sharply increasing demand for its products. To put things in perspective, as many as 89 million masks, 30 million gowns, 1.59 million goggles, 76 million gloves, and 2.9 million liters of hand sanitizer were used each month in the fight against COVID-19.
But not all PPE is created equal. Personal protection, after all, takes a variety of forms, and protects against a broad range of threats, from chemical agents to biological pathogens. When selecting the right personal protective suit, therefore, you need to know exactly what each one does.
To this end, we have provided the following primer on protective suits. It includes what they are, when you need them, and how to get the most out of their numerous benefits and features.
Remember: it could end up being the difference between you being a survivor–or one of the infected.
(Image courtesy of Delaware National Guard via Flickr)
Table of Contents
What is PPE?
Which Jobs Require PPE?
What Makes MIRA Safety Suits Better than Others?
What Accessories Do I Need for My Suit?
What is PPE?
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, refers to anything designed to protect individuals from contact with harmful substances and contaminants, including chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, and mechanical hazards.
A broad range of industries–such as construction, emergency services, and healthcare–use personal protective equipment, though the magnitude of protection needed varies depending upon one’s job. Accordingly, PPE is grouped into four different categories based on the degree of protection the garment provides.
Let's dive into the different levels of protection associated with PPE.
First off is Level A, which represents the highest level of protection afforded by personal protective suits. The purpose of this category of PPE is to prevent any contact with hazardous materials via the respiratory system, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes. Note that Level A personal protective suits are commonly found in fields in which there is a high degree of exposure to toxic chemicals, gasses, vapors, infectious diseases, or radioactive materials.
Consisting of a full-body protective suit, gloves, and boots, Level A PPE is intended to encapsulate the entire body of the wearer. Ideally, this prevents any contact between their skin and the external environment.
Like the previous category, Level B suits offer a high level of protection for the respiratory system. They also meet many of the same OSHA requirements as their Level A counterparts. With that said, they are more suitable for workplaces that require a lower level of skin and eye protection.
The chief difference between a Level A and a Level B suit is that the former provides a full-body barrier against hazardous substances, while the latter does not typically offer the same level of vapor-tightness or full encapsulation.
Looking for something to reduce exposure in a short-term dash to safety? Level B should work. Aiming to pack a long-term survival backpack? You’ll want Level A.
In the main, Level C suits protect against airborne substances. They are suitable in working environments where the first priority is respiratory protection, while the risks to the eyes and skin are relatively low.
As such, Level C suits include either a full or half-face mask, respirator, chemical-resistant clothing, gloves, and boots.
Unlike the previous categories, Level D generally consists of a work uniform. It may also include coveralls, safety boots, and any other equipment that is deemed appropriate, depending upon the situation.
Naturally, this category represents the minimum level of protection required.
(Image courtesy of The Oklahoma National Guard via Flickr)
Which Jobs Require PPE?
For those of us who work remotely–like this humble writer–the idea of a work uniform has become so foreign that anything beyond “the Zoom shirt” feels taxing to put on.
As a result, we can easily forget that there are jobs that not only require trousers, but also protective garments of varying levels.
So let’s jog our collective memories, reviewing the various professions that see workers garbed in PPE during their workday.
Drug Enforcement Agency
Contrary to what Hollywood portrays, DEA officials are less likely to be wearing SWAT-style combat suits, and more likely to be wearing full-coverage PPE. After all, their job involves the identification of unknown substances, most of which will be harmless, but some of which could be highly toxic.
With proper PPE, DEA personnel can thoroughly analyze any substance without risking their health and wellbeing.
Crime Scene Investigator
As you may have gleaned from popular TV shows like Law & Order: SVU and CSI: Miami, crime scene investigators are also known to wear PPE equipment, especially at the scene of a crime. Since there is no telling what investigators may be exposed to on the job, agencies often take precautions, though protocols may vary.
For these real-life versions of Horatio Caine, protective clothing also serves the purpose of preventing cross-contamination and the transfer of trace evidence. This helps to ensure a fair investigation.
Depending upon the situation, CSI PPE can include anything from disposable gloves to face masks to full PPE suits.
No doubt one of the most well-known professions that is associated with PPE is that of the venerable firefighter. Each day, these brave men and women come into direct contact with flames as they charge into burning buildings and forests. Ergo, PPE is needed to keep them safe from burns.
Typically, this takes the form of fire-resistant clothing, helmets, gloves, and boots.
As previously mentioned, workers who encounter unknown substances throughout the course of their day require protection. And what could be more unknown than space?
Indeed, it is because of this contact with uncharted extraterrestrial terrain–including the danger of radiation and extreme temperatures–that spacefarers require PPE. Thankfully, their space suits fully insulate them from the myriad dangers of the cosmos.
If you’ve ever lived in a damp climate, you’re probably well aware of how damaging and hazardous mold can be.
If so, spare a thought for the mold remediators of the world, who protect the public from a host of health problems–like respiratory distress and allergic reactions–when treating contaminated areas. In order to do so, they don respirators, gloves, full-body suits, and goggles.
During the pandemic, frontline workers compromised their own health and safety in order to keep society up and running. Leading this charge was a multitude of medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.
Though lockdown restrictions have since been lifted, medical professionals’ feats of heroism continue–with many of these workers finding themselves in daily contact with a wide array of bodily fluids and contagious diseases.
It’s little wonder, then, that folks in the medical field safeguard their health with PPE. Though the level of protection varies by situation, it can include gloves, masks, gowns, eye protection, and respirators.
(Image courtesy of The Delaware National Guard via Flickr)
What Makes MIRA Safety Suits Better than Others?
Specializing in CBRN-rated equipment with great durability, MIRA Safety leads the charge to provide high-end PPE for everyone, equipping you with all that you need to survive the world’s hazards.
Top of the line is the MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT, the perfect combination of comfort and protection from a wide range of threats. While it’s not quite Fallout's power armor, it brings a number of impressive features, including:
Inclusive Sizing: With suits in children and adult sizes, this HAZ-suit offers full protection for the entire family–one of the only disposable HAZ-MAT suits of its kind.
Attached Hood: The integrated elastic hood offers increased protection while enhancing comfort.
Rugged Fabric: With strong and robust fabric as well as a virtually unlimited shelf life, the HAZ-SUIT will be ready to go whenever you need it, even after years of storage.
Respiratory and Chemical Protection: The HAZ-SUIT has been tested against over 125 chemicals, including ones commonly used in industry as well as chemical warfare agents.
Increased Physical and Tensile Strength: The HAZ-SUIT is designed to be used in civil defense and military organizations, and as such features long chemical durability and increased strength.
Heat-Sealed and Taped Seam: This suit features a heat-sealed and taped seam to increase protection from vapor hazards.
Compatible With MIRA Safety Equipment: To ensure complete body protection, the suit is compatible with MIRA Safety gas masks and respirators.
What Accessories Do I Need for My Suit?
While suits like the MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT protect individuals against a range of CBRN hazards, additional supplies that complement the suit and enhance protection may be needed.
For added security, consider checking out some of the other supplies below.
Masks offer protection against chemical gasses or any other hazard that can be ingested. To varying levels (depending upon whether it is a half-mask or a full-face mask), the face and respiratory systems are afforded protection from airborne threats.
But which one should you choose? Well, that depends on your priorities. For enhanced visibility, the CM-6M is your mask of choice, as it offers the greatest field of vision, at 77.6%.
Meanwhile, the CM-7M is designed to cheek a firearm whilst looking through an optic due to its more tapered design. Though this leaves you with slightly less visibility, at 71.5%, the CM-7M compensates for this with its flexibility, making it easy to stow in a gas mask pouch.
Gloves protect your hands against chemicals or hazardous substances that might damage the skin. Depending on the type of glove, the degree of shielding may differ, but individuals can generally expect protection against chemicals, cuts, and heat.
For the ultimate defense against CBRN agents, check out MIRA Safety’s NC-11 protective gloves. Proven to withstand even the most extreme conditions through extensive testing, these gloves provide a full twenty-four hours of protection against all threats chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological.
Overboots, worn over your existing boots, protect your feet from chemical substances that may damage your skin.
Made of a unique vinyl plastisol, our Combat CBRN Overboots are hardy but flexible, making them as capable on the city streets as they are in a toxic wasteland. After all, they are impermeable to nuclear fallout, as well as other biological, chemical, and radiological threats.
MIRA Safety’s chemical-resistant tape provides protection from liquid threats, chemical splashes, aerosols, and particulates, making it the perfect addition to your protective clothing. Able to hold for eight hours, it seals your suit without unduly limiting your range of movement.
And for those who enjoy the great outdoors, it doubles as an excellent form of shelter or tent repair.
To be sure, the COVID-19 pandemic has normalized PPE to a much greater degree. Where garments like surgical masks may have once seemed strictly clinical, they are now a common sight in everyday life.
But though the pandemic has ingrained a new and heightened sense of precaution in society, most Americans are still woefully unprepared when it comes to CBRN threats. This means that if there is a leak at a local power plant, or a wildfire breaks out, the average Joe will be at an increased risk of injury–or worse.
With this in mind, it is prudent to stock up on CBRN-rated PPE. That way, whether you have to shelter-in-place, bug out, or stave off a hoard of mutated radroaches, you can rest assured that you and your family remain protected.