DuPont ™ Nomex® Industrial FAQs

View some of the most frequently asked questions DuPont receives about protective apparel made with Nomex® flame-resistant brand fiber.

 

QUESTION:
What is Nomex®?

Answer:
Nomex® is the brand name for an inherently flame-resistant aramid fiber that is manufactured only by DuPont.

 

QUESTION:
What is protective apparel made with Nomex®?

Answer:
Protective apparel made with Nomex® is a collection of inherently flame-resistant apparel manufactured by garment manufacturers that is used to help protect people from thermal hazards.

 

QUESTION:
Who wears protective apparel made with Nomex®?  

Answer:
Every year, workers' lives are saved in a variety of industries because they are wearing flame-resistant protective apparel made with Nomex®. In fact, almost all turnouts chosen by US firefighters contain DuPont materials such as Nomex® and/or Kevlar® brand fibers. Protective apparel made with Nomex® also is worn by racecar drivers, U.S. Forest Service employees, petrochemical workers, military personnel, utility crews, and astronauts.

 

QUESTION:
Why should I wear protective apparel made with Nomex®?  

Answer:
Everyday work clothes, including cotton and polyester blends, are not flame-resistant and do not fully protect against the hazards of flash fires or electric arcs. Natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, and blends with synthetic fibers, such as nylon and polyester, all support combustion. Cotton can ignite and continue to burn, while nylon and polyester can ignite, burn, melt, and adhere to workers' skin. In addition, the explosive force of an electric arc can blast apart clothing made of cotton or polyester/cotton blends, exposing workers directly to the arc's devastating effects and any resulting fire. Although every fabric can be exposed to an arc with sufficient intensity to cause break-open, some resist better than others. Protective apparel made with Nomex® helps provide high resistance to break-open. Protective apparel made with Nomex® acts as a protective barrier and will not burn or melt and drip. This excellent arc flash protection helps give wearers more time to escape from a hazardous situation.

 

QUESTION:
What is the difference between inherently flame-resistant fabrics and chemically dependent flame-retardant fabrics?

Answer:
Protective apparel made with Nomex® is inherently flame-resistant. The actual structure of the fiber itself is not flammable, which means the protection is permanent. The protection is built into the fiber itself and can never be worn away or washed out. When exposed to flame, the aramid fiber swells and becomes thicker, forming a protective barrier between the heat source and the skin. This protective barrier stays supple until it cools, helping to give the wearer vital extra seconds of protection to escape. Chemically dependent flame-retardant fabrics, such as Indura® flame-retardant treated cotton, FireWear® and FR rayon, provide a different type of protection. A chemical additive in the fiber or treatment on the fabric is used to provide some level of flame retardancy. During an industrial fire, chemically dependent fabrics rely on a chemical reaction to extinguish the flame. The heat of the fire and the amount of time the fabric is exposed to the fire triggers this reaction. As the time and heat exposure increase, heat transfer and the resulting burn injury to the wearer increase dramatically as the flame-retardant chemicals activate. These chemicals and the fabric produce vigorous afterflame, hot gases, smoke, and tars that can adversely affect the wearer.

 

QUESTION:
Is protective apparel made with Nomex® chemically resistant?

Answer:
Aramid fibers have very good resistance to many chemicals, such as organics, acids, and bases. Although protective apparel made with Nomex® fiber helps exhibit them with good chemical stability, most aramid garments are made of fabrics that are not designed to protect the wearer against chemical penetration.

 

QUESTION:
Does protective apparel made with Nomex® help protect wearers from the risks of static buildup?  

Answer:
Even in low humidity, Nomex® fiber helps protective apparel dissipate static generated from fabric-to-fabric and fabric-to-surface rubbing. Dissipating static charges in the fabric reduces the risks and discomfort associated with static electricity and reduces the contribution of clothing to the static charge buildup on the human body. In certain working environments, only one millijoule (mJ) of energy — less than the nuisance static that builds in the human body from simply walking on a carpet — can ignite hydrocarbon vapor mixtures. The main source of spark potential is from static stored in the human body, rather than from garments.

 

QUESTION:
Do workers in explosive atmospheres still need to be grounded if they wear protective apparel made with Nomex®?

Answer:
Yes. Personnel grounding must be the first line of defense against explosions caused by static. Protective apparel made with Nomex® does not replace proper grounding procedures, such as:

•    Discharging static from the body before entering a potentially explosive atmosphere by touching a grounded metal object
•    Wearing a wristlet that connects the worker to a grounded source, such as grounded equipment furniture
•    Using conductive footwear and flooring
 

QUESTION:
Is protective apparel made with Nomex® cost-effective?

Answer:
Yes, protective apparel made with Nomex® is an excellent value, and over time is more cost-effective than other protective fabrics. In fact, the outstanding wear life of protective apparel made with Nomex® can actually save your company money over the life of the garment because it is extremely durable and may last three to five times longer than conventional or chemically dependent garments. Industrial launderers estimate that protective apparel made with Nomex® can be washed and worn more than 125 times. Contact the manufacturers of garments made with Nomex® listed in the Where to Buy list to get specific information on the garments made with Nomex® commercially available.

 

QUESTION:
Is protective apparel made with Nomex® comfortable?

Answer:
Yes. Protective apparel made with Nomex® fabrics balances breathability in everyday use with excellent thermal protection under fire or electric arc exposures.

 

QUESTION:
Are garments made with Nomex® available in different styles?

Answer:
Garments made with Nomex® are available in a wide range of colors and styles, including jackets, parkas, slacks, jeans, shirts, coveralls, and switching coats. Garments made with Nomex® are available in a variety of fabric weights to suit your climate and are as comfortable to wear as other work clothing. Contact any of the manufacturers of garments made with Nomex® listed in the Where to Buy list to get specific information on the range of styles of garments made with Nomex® commercially available.

 

QUESTION:
Do garments made with Nomex® require special laundering techniques?

Answer:
Normal home, commercial, and industrial laundering and dry cleaning techniques are suitable. Because the flame-resistant protection is part of the aramid fiber, it cannot be washed or worn out. Recommended laundering procedures are available. Many companies consider industrial laundering programs to ensure their garments are thoroughly cleaned and properly maintained and to implement and manage their Protective Apparel programs. Protective apparel made with Nomex® is extremely durable and stands up well to repeated launderings and use. Fabrics have very low initial shrinkage (1% to 3% the latest data did not show the different between Nomex® IIIA fabric and Ultrasoft®. It is not due to the fiber, but the fabric processing. ) and maintain their size and shape over the life of the garment. Additionally, these garments come out of the dryer ready to wear and rarely need pressing. Chlorine bleach should not be used on fabric made with Nomex® fiber. Chlorine bleach or other additives will not remove the flame protection as they can with flame-retardant treated fabrics; however, to preserve garment strength and prolong garment life, chlorine bleach should not be used. Caution: Thoroughly remove greases, oily soil, and other flammable contaminants from protective garments made of Nomex®. Flammable contaminants serve as a fuel source and will reduce the thermal performance of any garment. Tears or rips should be repaired with components made from Nomex® brand fabric, sewing thread, zipper tapes, and patches. Please consult the manufacturer of garments made with Nomex® for specific laundering and care instructions.

 

QUESTION:
What are the purchasing options for protective apparel made with Nomex® fiber?  

Answer:
•    Purchase garments directly from a manufacturer or distributor — try our Where to Buy tool to find a company offering coverage in your area.
•    Lease garments from an industrial launderer. This program would include the cost of initial garments, repairs, replacement, and program management. Your company would
     be responsible for on-site or home laundering.
•    Rent garments from an industrial launderer. This program would include the cost of initial garments, regular cleaning, repair, replacement, and program management.
 

*Indura® and Ultrasoft® are registered trademark of Westex® Inc.

*FireWear® is a registered trademark of Springfield, L.L.C.