Laura Munevar-Ortiz

Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D. in Human Ecology & Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisors: Dr. Patricia Dolez & Dr. John Nychka

Thesis Title: Aging of moisture barriers used in firefighter’s protective clothing

Moisture management is critical within firefighters‘ turnout gear because it diminishes the cause of severe injuries (e.g., burns, physiological strain, heat stress) and favors comfort. When a firefighters’ garment is wet on its inside and outside, this fact increases the heat transfer through the turnout gear causing burns even though no thermal damage to the clothing is evident by the naked eye. The function of the moisture barrier is fundamental because it protects firefighters’ body from external liquids entering while allowing the water vapour to exit. Although researchers have shown that the moisture barrier is the most sensible layer among the three layers of the turnout gear, limited research exists on the effect of different stressors (e.g., ultraviolet radiation, heat, moisture, abrasion, and laundry) on the moisture barrier’s performance over time. The purpose of my research is to gain a better understanding of the effect of aging conditions encountered during typical use on the molecular structure, microscopic characteristics, and macroscopic properties (tear strength and water vapour diffusion) of the moisture barriers. In addition, I will develop strategies to predict the residual performance of protective clothing so that workers know when to retire their clothing or have the moisture barrier replaced, for instance, based on life expectancy predictive models.

Publications or other research contributions:

Munevar-Ortiz, L., Batcheller, J., and Dolez, P. I. (2021). Influence of Specimen Size on the Tear Strength of Fabrics by the Trapezoid Procedure. Journal of Testing and Evaluation

Munevar-Ortiz, L., Nychka, J., & Dolez, P (2021). Influence of Hydrothermal Aging on the Strength of Moisture Barriers used in Firefighters’ Protective Clothing. Canadian Materials Science Conference 2021, online.

Asad, A., Chen, J., & Munevar-Ortiz, L (2020). The Fabrication of Membrane Technology and its applications. On the October SMART Talk at the Smart Networking, online.

Munevar-Ortiz, L., & Dolez, P (2020). Effect of Specimen Size on The Trapezoidal Tear Strength Procedure. The Institute of Textile Science Scientific Session, Edmonton, Canada.

Munevar-Ortiz, L., & Dolez, P (2019). Evaluation of tear strength in post-use firefighters’ protective clothing over time. ALES Symposium Poster Presentation, Edmonton, Canada.

Munevar-Ortiz, L., & Dolez, P (2019). Evolution of residual performance of firefighters’ protective clothing over time. AHEA Conference 2019: Power of Embracing Our Niche, Red Deer, Canada.