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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the June 26, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

In Age of Terror, a Super Hood

Six months before the anthrax scare, a company in Trenton

— Chem-Tex Inc. — had an anti-terrorism hood on the market.

Called an "NBC Hood" because it protects against nuclear,

biological, and chemical disasters, it comes with replaceable respirator

canisters and sells for $129 retail. Sales of this item markedly increased

after last fall’s terror attacks.

"When you have our hood, which fits over the cap of the shoulders,

you have six hours of protection to get away from whatever has taken

place," says Bill Enderlein, sales and marketing director. "If

a police officer is to go into an area that he knows nothing about,

he can don it in 30 seconds and walk in and breathe easy and be protected

up to six hours." The hood weighs one pound and fits in a briefcase.

The hood protects against anthrax inhalation, tear gas, and nerve

gas (such as the kind let loose in a Japanese subway). This hood would

not have helped those at the World Trade Center who were exposed to

smoke, flames, and jet fuel. "But if someone does something chemically,

it is your life line and will give you enough time to get away from

what has taken place. It’s the insurance you don’t have to collect

on," says Enderlein. With just a traditional gas mask, he points

out, your face, your head, and your shoulder’s are still "in harm’s

way."

At its plant in Delaware, Chem-Tex has been manufacturing reusable

chemical protective clothing for commercial units for years. One part

of the company makes and sells equipment to the military, and the

other part sells a different line of equipment to the consumer market.

CEO David Harris donated 20 of the anti-terrorism hoods to Trenton

police last month and will donate an additional batch in his home

town of Newtown, Pennsylvania, on August 10.

Harris is a graduate of Trenton Junior College and Drexel University

and founded Chem-Tex in 1984. He has 40,000 square feet across from

the former Hill Refrigeration plant in Trenton and the factory in

Delaware.

The company can make 1,000 vests a week, and its military products

have different specifications from the consumer versions. It buys

the respirators from Neoterik.

Chem-Tex also offers many other products, including "totally encapsulated"

suits, jackets, bib overalls, coveralls, chemical protective hoods,

accessories, and even personal cooling systems. The cooling gear includes

"arctic cool" vests with gel packs that last three or four

hours. Also available: a wicking polypropylene shirt and a vest that

is tethered to an air hose. In this patented device, when compressed

air comes through the valve it evaporates the perspiration, thereby

cooling the person.

"Most of our sales have been in New York City," says Enderlein,

"to people working in tall buildings. One stockbroker bought them

for his entire firm. He shipped some to his two buddies — Martin

Short and Tom Hanks — for their personal use."

Enderlein is not enthusiastic about retail sales, with all the accompanying

overhead costs, and is marketing the hoods to larger companies for

them to issue the hoods under their own label. A manufacturing company,

for instance, could give hoods as a "safety perk" to salesmen

on the road.

Chem-Tex Inc., 550 West Ingham Avenue, Trenton

08638. David Harris, president. 609-392-6770; fax, 609-392-7506. Www.thechemtexcorp.com

— Barbara Fox


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