Permeation of substance mixtures through PPE

Project No. IFA 3108


completed 04/2012


Measurements of chemical permeation on elastomeric materials from which protective clothing is manufactured are performed in accordance with European standards using pure substances such as volatile organic solvents, acids and alkalis. The reason for such measurements is frequently type testing of the protective clothing concerned, in order for it to be certified in accordance with the PPE Directive for homologation for the European market. The routine procedures employed for this purpose are of only limited use for real-case problems, in which multi-component systems (preparations) and above all substances of low volatility are the norm.

This research project aims to fill this gap. An automated method is to enable complex preparations containing substances of widely differing volatility to be assessed selectively by substance for their permeation behaviour on a wide range of materials used for protective clothing. In addition, the method is to permit practical conclusions concerning the possible duration of wear of protective gloves at workplaces typical of a particular sector (such as for hairdressers or dental technicians). This particularly concerns multi-component mixtures containing substances of low volatility.

To date, no method suitable for this purpose has been available.
If appropriate, the measurement method is to be incorporated into European standards for use as a reference method.


Following development of the method by the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the building trade in Munich in close co-operation with the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA), a measurement system (solid phase microextraction, SPME) was set up and trialled in combination with optimized GC/MS-CI analysis.

The method was primarily trialled on selected substances associated with sector-specific issues. Of particular interest was the additional information that could be obtained by means of the new method compared to the conventional method set out in the standard. For the purpose of comparison, a study already performed by means of the conventional method (BGIA Project 3084, concerning hairdressers' chemicals and protective gloves) was taken up.


A measurement method and a measurement system were developed by means of which the permeation could be studied of a wide spectrum of organic substances in mixtures and in products which often consist of complex mixtures.
The results of the project confirmed that the SPME upon which the measurement method was based is able to collect substances of high and low volatility and reactive substances, and to detect and identify them directly with use of a GC/MS analysis system, without further working steps.
The SPME GC/MS method can be used to collect the substances both from the gaseous phase and from water-based solutions (in this case for example polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and certain glove allergens).
The objective of automating permeation measurements as far as possible by means of this system was achieved. The required improvements were accompanied by the development, adaptation and integration of suitable equipment and software. Evaluation showed that the SPME-GC/MS measurement method could also be applied for tests on numerous organic substances in accordance with the various standards and their evaluation criteria, and that it was equally suitable for analysis of the individual substances and mixtures of them.

Last Update:

11 Mar 2013


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

dangerous substances


Persönliche Schutzausrüstung, Chemische Arbeitsstoffe, Prüfverfahren

Description, key words:

permeation, protective gloves, detection, low-volatility substances, SPME (solid phase microextraction), GC/MS-CI analysis, personal protective equipment (PPE)