Sunday, May 17, 2020

Hazmat suite, fashion trends that symbolize health problems

Hazardous materials (hazmat) suit are becoming a ‘fashion trend’ today. Various media, whether electronic, print, or online, often feature a person or group of people dressed in hazmat, complete with headgear, masks, goggles, and boots. Look cool, like an astronaut but behind that there is a symbol that the world is facing a health problem.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of hazmat is a material (such as flammable or poisonous material) that would be a danger to life or to the environment if released without precautions. It can be concluded that hazmat suit is a piece of protective equipment against hazardous and toxic materials that have fatal effects on humans.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that threatens the lives of infected humans, makes this hazmat suit seems to be a trend. The medical personnel who are in direct contact with people with Covid-19, certainly the neediest. Adequate protection for their bodies is mandatory, so hazmat clothing is the solution.

Hazmat clothing was introduced by Russian scientists in the 1870s when the plague struck the Volga. However, these clothes are designed not to protect the body from bacteria, but to prevent harmful gas inhalation of the respiratory tract. There is a long history of personal protection, but not from bacteria, as scientists didn’t have the understanding of it we do today.

The origin of modern hazmat emerged during the Manchurian plague in 1910. This outbreak is deadly pneumonia that attacks northeastern China. Is Dr. Wu Lien-the who believes that the causative virus is in the air and spreads like flu. He also advised all doctors, nurses, and funeral officers to wear simple masks made of gauze he made. This became the forerunner of hazmat suits for protection during a pandemic.

When he first introduced it, Dr. Wu was a laughingstock at other doctors. However, he was a hero when a doctor from France treated patients without wearing a mask and died several days after that. The use of medical masks also became a 'trend' during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. In the 20th century, chemical workers were equipped with modern hazmat clothing. When the Ebola outbreak in the 1990s hazmat suit had become mandatory equipment for medical workers.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the whole world, where the aggressive character of the coronavirus, hazmat suit became the main equipment for doctors, nurses, and officers who came in direct contact with sufferers. There have been several cases where medical workers have been infected by Covid-19 due to the inadequacy of the hazmat suit they wore.

Various health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) have set standards for hazmat gown materials, namely polyethylene. Other materials, such as sponges, and fabrics are considered inadequate and provide a gap for the virus to infect the wearer. So far, various manufacturers around the world have produced a hazmat gown that has met WHO standards.

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