Chemical and microorganism-resistant footwear

Project No. BIA 1070


completed 03/2003


No agreed German or European procedure currently exists for the evaluation of footwear products for personal protection against chemicals and microorganisms with respect to their conformity with the PPE Directive 89/686/EC. The absence of such a standard represents a problem for notified bodies, who are not able to access tests based on generally recognized principles for the certification of such products. At the same time, the manufacturers of chemical-resistant footwear are confronted with a distortion of the market conditions. In order to rectify this situation, a European project had been launched in which the essential requirements for chemical-resistant footwear and the corresponding test procedures were to be drawn up. A further step was to produce a draft standard, based upon these requirements and procedures, for the competent standardization committees under CEN.


The project consisted of six tasks. Firstly, suitable chemicals and footwear materials had to be selected for testing of chemical resistance (degradation) and permeation. The second task entailed development of a test method for determining the degradation of materials used in industrial footwear, in terms of effects on their key physical properties. The third task consisted of development of a test method for assessment of the shoe materials' resistance to chemical permeation, and of formulation of the test requirements in a standard. The requirements for footwear providing protection against microorganisms were then assessed in the forth task. A standardised information for the use of this PPE was drawn up in the fifth task. The final part of the project involved preparation of a draft presented in CEN/TC 161 "Foot and leg protectors", in consideration of which modifications were made to the document currently in progress.


In the course of the project, a procedure was developed for the degradation of shoe materials by chemicals. This encompassed criteria based upon mechanical tests for assessment of degradation. A cell specially developed and optimized for the purpose was employed. A permeation method familiar from the glove test was successfully adapted. All necessary round-robin tests were performed with selected combinations of materials and chemicals, and enable the materials to be classified according to their performance. General test conditions for the resistance to sterilization were laid down, in order to provide an indication of the suitability of protective footwear for protection against microorganisms. Following conclusion of the project, four revised draft standards for "Footwear protecting against chemicals and micro-organisms" were presented to the relevant CEN standards committee (CEN/TC 161) with the aid of the results gained.

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Financed by:
  • Europäische Union - Generaldirektion V
Research institution(s):
  • Centre technique cuir chaussure maroquinerie (CTC)
  • Centro Italiano Materiali di Applicazione Calzaturiera (CIMAC)
  • Centralny Instytut Ochrony Pracy - Panstwowy Instytut Badawczy (CIOP-PIB)
  • Instituto Technologico del Calzado y Conexas (INESCOP)
  • SATRA Footwear Technology Centre
  • BIA

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

dangerous substances


Persönliche Schutzausrüstung, Normung, Prüfverfahren

Description, key words:

protective footwear, chemicals, chemical resistant footwear, microorganisms, personal protective equipment (PPE), standard