Hazardous substances include everything that is potentially harmful to a person's health. Those who work around dangerous chemicals, nuclear agents, biological substances, or even extreme temperatures require protective gear such as hazmat suites and respirators. A chemical suit designed for protection against hazardous materials usually offers protection that is specific to certain levels of danger. Several types of suits are available, and they do not all protect against the same hazards.
Level A Hazmat Suits
Level A chemical suits offer the highest level of protection by completely encasing the body inside a closed suit with a gas mask on the inside. Gloves and boots go with the suits to provide additional protection. Level A suits also have radios on the inside for the wearers to communicate with each other. Additionally, the suits can access backup air supplies in emergency situations. Those who wear these suits for long periods of time need to carry water in the suits because the material does not breath, and wearers get hot very quickly. Correct sizing is important because a suit that is too large adds unnecessary weight to an already heavy suit, and that makes it difficult to move.
Level B Hazmat Suits
Unlike Level A chemical suits, Level B suits are not vapour-protective. They do require the use of respirators, but users can wear the masks on the outside of the suits. In simple terms, the Level B suits protect wearers from direct contact with hazardous chemicals but not from all forms of chemical vapours or gases. The Level B suits vary in how much they enclose the body, although they always cover the wrists and ankles and have face masks and hoods to protect against splashes. Users also have a choice between two-piece suits or one-piece suits, with the one-piece suits offering the most protection. Wearers pair Level B suits with protective gloves and boots and two-way radios separately.
Level C Hazmat Suits
Level C suits are exactly the same as Level B suits, but they do not require self-contained respirators like the A and B suits. Level C protective gear is generally for situations when the danger is minimal, and there is little chance of contamination.
Level D Hazmat Suits
Level D chemical suits offer the least amount of protection. Wearers only use them when the slight possibility of danger exists, but any real threat is highly unlikely. These kinds of suits are common for firefighters, who could possibly come into contact with dangerous chemicals, but it is unlikely. Level D hazmat suits typically consist of heat-resistant and chemical-resistant overalls that leave the arms and face exposed.