Responsive Protection

he FiberComposites Division of Ahlstrom Corp., Finland — in collaboration with Cardinal
Health Inc., Dublin, Ohio — has developed a fabric for single-use medical gowns that it says
provides the maximum available level of protection against contagious viruses, as well as a high
degree of comfort and breathability. The Breathable Viral Barrier (BVB) fabric answers a need for
improved protection as specified in new standards being developed for single-use medical fabrics by
industry groups in the United States, the European Union and elsewhere.

The three-layered BVB fabric has at its heart a monolithic, impervious membrane that
increases the rate of moisture transfer in proportional response to the wearer’s rising body
temperature in situations — such as during surgery — where stress can and does run high. The
membrane is enclosed between two spunbond fabrics made with continuous fine polypropylene filaments
— an inner fabric treated to make it soft and comfortable and an outer one treated to give it
additional strength and repellency.

Cardinal Health’s SmartGown™ surgical gown is made with Ahlstrom’s BVB fabric featuring a
monolithic, impervious membrane sandwiched between two microfiber spunbond layers.

According to Jerome Barrillon, global marketing and communications manager in Ahlstrom’s
Windsor Locks, Conn., office, “monolithic” refers to Ahlstrom’s proprietary technology for
producing the membrane. “It’s a different way of casting the film that allows water vapor to
diffuse through the polymer film, while at the same time the membrane forms a total viral barrier,”
he explained. The molecular diffusion helps the wearer stay comfortable and dry, but the membrane
is impenetrable by infectious fluid-borne viruses.

Barrillon said the membrane conforms to the ASTM F1671 standard for resistance to viral
penetration, and — according to ratings established by the Association for the Advancement of
Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), Arlington, Va. — achieves AAMI Level 4, the highest degree of
protection, compared with conventional protective barrier fabrics that use microporous films. “
There’s no guarantee that viruses won’t go through microporous films,” he said, explaining that
such films have microscopic holes that are not of a uniform size, and viruses may be able to
penetrate them to some degree. He added that Ahlstrom has conducted tests to visually demonstrate
the efficacy of its BVB fabric, even when pressure or other such impacts are applied.

Cardinal Health uses Ahlstrom’s BVB fabric in its SmartGown™ surgical gown. The gown has an
additional protective benefit in that the main seams on the sleeves are sealed using Cardinal’s
proprietary technology that creates an impervious bond and enables SmartGown to achieve AAMI Level
4 in terms of both material and construction. The company says the gown meets the AAMI standard
while also delivering “a high level of clinician comfort.”

For more information about Ahlstrom’s BVB fabric, contact Jerome Barrillon (860) 654-8607,

January 2005