ISO, or the International Organization for Standardization, is a global federation that presents worldwide standards to its member bodies in an effort to advise on best practices and keep workers safe. One of these international standards, ISO 16602, is designed to provide insight into what type of PPE should be worn by professionals that regularly come into contact with hazardous chemicals and other substances. Because chemicals can have a significant impact on the human body, it's imperative that workers in these high-risk environments are outfitted with the right PPE that enables them to do their jobs and remain safe. That's where the right chemical protective clothing becomes essential.

In this post, we'll dig into the ISO 16602 standard and why it's so important to understand and follow in high-risk situations. Read on for more information about ISO 16602, the six types of hazard protection, and the consequences that may come from chemical exposure and more.

ISO 16602 Hazard Types

How do you know what type of PPE is appropriate for chemical handling and chemical hazards? While we'll get into specific examples in the next section, it's important to know that ISO16602 is based on a system of six performance "types" that help dictate the level of hazard and provide guidance for the appropriate PPE that should be worn. Specifically, PPE is assigned a number of one through six based on how it performs in various situations. For example, PPE is assigned a "type" when it comes to things like resistance to liquid penetration, protection against bodily fluids, and general strength and durability.

Below is a brief overview of the six "types" per ISO 16602:

  • Type 1: Gas-tight protection against any chemicals or gases
  • Type 2: Non-gas-tight protection
  • Type 3: Non-gas-tight protection in liquid and/or splash situations
  • Type 4: Non-gas-tight protection against liquid chemical splash
  • Type 5: Non-gas-tight protection against airborne particulate
  • Type 6: Non-gas-tight protection against liquid aerosol particulate

It's important to note that neither "type" is better nor worse than any other, but it is crucial to know the environment that you're working in so that you can select the right PPE for your situation.

Selection Guide: What Should I Wear?

Noting the six types per ISO 16602, you may be wondering what type of chemical protective clothing should be worn in the right circumstances. To provide better context around situational PPE, we've described some common scenarios and what type users should be looking for to properly protect themselves per ISO 16602. Before getting into the specifics, however, we should note the importance of each job site or worksite conducting a thorough risk assessment to know what hazards are present and how they can be properly mitigated. Here's a closer look:

Dry Particulates

When it comes to dry particulates, PPE that's rated Type 5 is typically sufficient in protecting users.

Infectious Agents

Infectious agents, such as bloodborne pathogens, certain aerosols and bodily fluids, typically require either Type 5 or Type 6 to ensure proper protection.

Liquid Agents

Liquid agents can vary based on a variety of factors that can dictate the type of PPE that should be worn to properly safeguard users. For instance, is the exposure level high or low? Is it an aerosol or a spray? If the exposure is a spray, is it a light or a heavy spray? For low exposure to aerosols, Type 6 PPE is adequate. For high exposure to sprays, especially where there may be the risk of splashing, Type 3 or Type 4 may be the better option.

Gas/Vapor Hazards

If you're regularly in situations where any gas or vapor hazards are present, then a Type 1 gas-tight suit is the best — and really, the only — option.


While ISO 16602 addresses PPE as a whole, it's worth noting that it does not address gloves, boots and any sort of eye or facial protection unless it is a key part of any full-body suit or integrated within the PPE. Users in hazardous situations should be sure not to overlook these aspects when outfitting themselves in these situations as well.

Key Signs and Symptoms of Chemical Exposure

PPE is specifically designed to help keep users safe from exposure to hazardous particulates, substances, chemicals, and gases. And if the incorrect type of PPE is worn or if it's not worn correctly, the consequences can be significant. All chemicals are different and can have a varying effect on those that they come into contact with. Chemicals can also impact the human body in different ways depending on the part of the body that they touch. While it's very important that anybody working with, or around any chemicals or hazardous substances, is fully aware of the danger and how to safeguard themselves from exposure, it's just as important to know the signs and symptoms that may indicate potential exposure. In some more dire situations of chemical exposure, emergency medical attention may be required.

Skin Exposure

If a chemical substance were to come into contact with anyone's skin, symptoms may include itching, burning, blistering, inflammation, or hives.


Should someone ingest a hazardous chemical, symptoms are likely to include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and darkened urine.


Drowsiness, vertigo, headaches and confusion are common symptoms associated with chemical inhalation. Shortness of breath, coughing, an increased heart rate, and a dry or scratchy throat is also common.

Eye Exposure

If chemicals were to come into contact with someone's eyes, consequences may include a burning sensation, discharge, blurred vision, or even blindness. Eyes should be immediately washed at an eyewash station to prevent potential permanent damage.

Be Prepared in the Event of an Emergency

Just as it's important to ensure that the right PPE for chemical hazards is worn in the appropriate situations, it's also important for anyone working in these situations to know what the appropriate safety measures are should they come into contact with any hazardous substances. While donning the right PPE is a key proactive measure to take, it's also important to know how to react should either of the above scenarios occur. Showers, eyewash stations, and moving to areas of fresh air after exposure are specific measures to take to protect the health of the exposed worker(s). Further medical attention may also be necessary. Having fire extinguishers handy and the right cleanup supplies to properly remove spills is also key.

How to Properly Dispose of Chemical PPE

Another factor that cannot be overlooked is the proper disposal of PPE that was used for any type of chemical handling. PPE that is used to handle or work around chemicals is not like standard PPE used on construction sites or in other general use situations, therefore it also needs to be discarded differently. This is largely because you don't want to inadvertently cross-contaminate any areas or expose yourself or others to a potentially harmful substance due to improper disposal.

So what's the best way to dispose of any PPE that has been worn while working with hazardous chemicals or particulate? Largely, it depends on what type of potential contamination was involved. When dealing with extremely dangerous chemicals and substances, a hazmat team may have to be on site to advise and assist with the proper disposal of used PPE. In other situations, the PPE must be thoroughly cleaned to rid itself of any potential contaminant. Then, it can be discarded of normally. Other situations may require PPE to be disposed of in bags or containers marked for hazardous waste.

It's important to not just assume that PPE for chemical handling or in hazardous environments can be discarded along with regular trash. Be sure to know the situation you're working in, the risks that are present and what the risk of any cross-contamination or exposure is. It's also important to consult with the safety professional on-site or OSHA if there are further questions about how to properly dispose of contaminated PPE. Failure to discard this type of PPE properly could end up having dire consequences for many, so it's essential to get it right.

Any position or activity that comes into contact with chemical hazards must ensure that the right chemical protective clothing is worn — and worn properly. Failure to do so has the potential to put many people at risk of exposure, which can have severe medical consequences. It's why it's important to know and understand ISO 16602 and how PPE is rated based on "types." When it comes to handling hazardous substances, you don't want to take any chances.

International Enviroguard offers a wide range of disposable chemical protection—from chemical coveralls, to splash aprons, and sleeves—we can help safeguard your workers from chemical exposure. With features such as taped seams and suits with or without an attached hood and boots, your team can be protected from head to toe.

Explore our wide range of chemical PPE to find what works best for your application. Unsure of what you need? Contact us and we can help you find the chemical PPE needed to keep your workers comfortable and more importantly, safe.