Serving a Need
Demand for protective garments skyrockets as debate on Ebola includes possibility of air borne as well as blood borne transmission
Demand for clothing by Kappler Inc. soars with two days of orders surpassing two years of annual sales
Tiverton More than 500 front-line health care workers have contracted Ebola since the epidemic began in Dec. of 2013, and 269 have died, according to World Health Organization statistics compiled through the end of October. In addition, some of the nation’s top infectious disease experts believe that the deadly virus could mutate and be transmitted by just a cough or sneeze. “These factors have created unprecedented demand for protective garments using APTRA® a breathable microporous plastic film that resists both contact, droplet and airborne transmission of pathogens,” said Tom Inglis, General Manager of BI-AX International Inc. of Tiverton, ON.
BI-AX manufactures innovative plastic products like APTRA® as well as compostable, biodegradable bio-plastic films like Evlon. One of the APTRA® customers in North America is Kappler Inc., a made-in-the-USA manufacturer of protective garments including ProVent ® 10,000 coveralls, gowns, lab coats and boots for healthcare workers. Kappler customers in turn include the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and “in-the-know” orthopedic surgeons and nurses who insist on the best protective clothing for operating theatres where transmission of pathogens is a constant risk.
Dennis Sanders, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Guntersville, AL-based Kappler, said that the Ebola outbreak has resulted in “orders over two days that surpass two years worth of past orders for our ProVent ® 10,000 healthcare garments made with APTRA®.”
Kappler’s products also include a line of industrial, hazardous materials (HAZMAT) and security garments where there is zero margin for error in work environments for risks such as chemical contamination. “The medical side of our business has just exploded and we are now switching assembly lines over to ProVent ® 10,000 to keep up with demand,” added Sanders.
According to Kappler, APTRA® film is a barrier to blood and body fluids that contain viruses or pathogens based on the ASTM F-1671 test method, and blood resistance to the ASTM F-1670 test method.
BI-AX produces the APTRA® microporous film used by Kappler under contract for RKW Danafilms Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of The RKW Group. Based in Frankenthal, Germany, the company is Europe’s largest plastic film producer.
According to RKW’s German Sector Manager Robert Voggenauer, APTRA® film is also rip and tear resistant in hurricane-force winds, while sufficiently porous to provide breathability and comfort for healthcare workers who may be working in hot climate conditions.
APTRA® also offers a green advantage. “In the case of mass-produced healthcare garments,” said Voggenauer. “APTRA® is 100% non-poisonous so if it is incinerated after use, the only outputs are carbon and water. In cases where it is used in a non-contaminated environment, it is also 100% recyclable.”
Kappler garments are constructed using the ProVent ® 10,000 fabric. This fabric is a breathable barrier to blood and viral hazards such as Ebola and passes the ASTM F-1671, Standard Test Method for Resistance of Materials Used in Protective Clothing to Penetration by Blood-Borne Pathogens Using Phi-X174 Bacteriophage Penetration as a Test System.
Kappler emphasizes that a protective garment is only one part of a system of protection that should include eye and face protection by means of respirators and face masks/shields. Gloves should also be used to provide total skin coverage.