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How Blast-resistant Clothing Works

        Science | Explosives

Other Blast-resistant Options
Edgar Moreno, victim of a landmine blast, places a flag bearing the words "No more anti-personnel mines" on a heap of shoes in Bogota, Colombia.
Edgar Moreno, victim of a landmine blast, places a flag bearing the words "No more anti-personnel mines" on a heap of shoes in Bogota, Colombia.
Mauricio Duenas/AFP/Getty Images

Not everyone who encounters a bomb will be fully garbed in a blast-resistant suit. An exposed turret-gunner in an armored vehicle that's passing a roadside bomb is at as great a risk as an EOD technician tasked with approaching and disarming a similar device. Both must wear blast-resistant clothing -- but different kinds to fit their needs. Law enforcement officers and FBI officials will also need to protect themselves on the job. No matter what type of bomb they may encounter -- pipe bomb, letter bomb, truck bomb or unknown explosive device -- local law enforcement agencies and the FBI must risk their lives to disable the weapon.

Humanitarian relief workers also need protection when demining a landmined nation or delivering supplies to the people who live there. Two protective accessories they use include anti-mine boots and demining aprons.

Anti-mine boots are used by those who demine minefields or who must work near or pass through heavily mined areas. These boots have soles that are several inches thicker than those of regular boots. Tabre is another material that's sometimes used in soles. Tabre is constructed from tiny, resin-coated grains of stone and is designed to diffuse the force of the blast. When the shock wave strikes the network of tiny stones, its energy is forced through the maze they form, which releases and decreases energy [source: BBC]. Boots may also incorporate materials like steel plates as well as Kevlar to protect the foot against penetration from shrapnel or debris.

Demining aprons are also used in humanitarian missions -- often carried out by the United Nations -- that involve clearing of heavily mined areas within war-torn nations. The demining apron provides protection where a person needs it most: in the front, neck, shoulder and groin area. Much like a chef's apron, there is no back to this garment (the wearer doesn't need protection from the rear), which cuts down on its weight and excessive heat it generates.

In the next section, we'll take a look at some of the blast-resistant materials and technologies of tomorrow and beyond.


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