United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1993 HQ Rulings > HQ 0088464 - HQ 0088755 > HQ 0088683

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 088683

June 11, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 088683 HP


TARIFF NO.: 6210.10.4010

Mr. Charles H. Salzenberg
Account Manager
E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company
Fibers Department
Laurel Run Building
P.O. Box 80,705
Wilmington, DE 19880-0705

RE: HRL 085360 affirmed. Asbestos coveralls.

Dear Mr. Salzenberg:

This is in reference to your letter of January 17, 1991. That letter concerned the tariff classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of spunbonded polypropylene coveralls. Please be aware that the delay in our response was in part the result of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Final Rule amending present standards for exposure to asbestos in general industry and construction. See 57 Fed. Reg. 24310 (June 8, 1992). These standards were considered decisive to your claim.


The merchandise at issue consists of spunbonded polypropylene coveralls designed for asbestos abatement. In HRL 085360 of December 13, 1989, issued to Latex Glove Co., Inc., we classified the coveralls under subheading 6210.10.4010, HTSUSA, as apparel designed for use in hospitals, clinics, laboratories or contaminated areas, and described the merchandise as follows:

The merchandise at issue consists of two nonwoven disposable protective coveralls
(Style Numbers T-504 and E-504) made of 100 percent spun-bonded polypropylene which are imported from Taiwan or China. Style E-504 has an additional polyethylene laminate on the outer surface. The coveralls are manufactured in sizes small through XXX large. Both garments have attached hoods with drawstrings which provide a snug fit around the head. The garments also provide foot protection in the form of boots which are part of the one-piece coverall. The coveralls have full length sleeves with elastic closures on the wrists to provide a snug fit. A zipper runs down the front of the coveralls and a seam is sewn across the chest rather than under the arms. The importer has informed us that these two garments provide a fully enclosed covering for the wearer's body when worn with: (1) rubber gloves, which are generally taped to the end of each sleeve; and (2) a respirator face mask, which protects the eyes, nose and mouth.

New York Ruling Letter 837654, dated
March 20, 1989, which responded to your original ruling request of February 28, 1989, found that the subject coveralls are classifiable in subheading 6210.10.4010,
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United
States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for "Garments, made up of fabrics of heading 5602 or 5603: Other: Nonwoven disposable apparel designed for use in hospitals, clinics, laboratories or contaminated areas." Customs New York Seaport requested, by a memorandum dated July 21, 1989, that we reconsider the above-cited ruling in view of Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 080056, dated August 27, 1987. The question was raised whether the garments, which are used for industrial purposes, should have been classified in subheading 6210.10.4015, HTSUSA, which provides for "Garments made up of fabrics of heading 5602 or 5603: Other: Other: Overalls and coveralls," i.e., coveralls which are otherwise classifiable in subheading
6210.10.40, HTSUSA, but which do not qualify as "nonwoven disposable apparel designed for use in hospitals, clinics, laboratories, or contaminated areas." Subheading 6210.10.4015 provides for a textile category number, whereas subheading 6210.10.4010 does not provide for such a number.

The advertising brochure distributed by your company pertains to asbestos abatement equipment, clothing, and accessories. On the second page of the brochure, in a section entitled "We Specialize in Disposable
Clothing," various styles of such clothing are listed, including the two garments at issue. You state that you sell these garments solely for use in asbestos abatement work. As distributors of these garments, your primary sales are to environmental contractors whose employees perform asbestos abatement work. In addition, you sell the garments directly to schools, institutions, and governmental agencies which use in-house personnel to do the actual abatement work. You also state that your company has been supplying work gloves and safety products to every type of industry for 55 years. When the need for asbestos abatement protection became necessary, you trained a special staff and developed a special group of products, including the subject garments, to serve the requirements of this activity. You claim that the coveralls at issue are "designed for use in contaminated areas," which includes areas where asbestos abatement work is being performed, because they provide a barrier over the worker's skin to prevent penetration of loose asbestos fibers. You have also informed us that the garments comply with standards set by OSHA with respect to exposure to asbestos and other toxic and hazardous substances. These standards are found in 29 CFR
1910.1000-.1500. 29 CFR 1910.1001(h)(1) provides that if an employee is exposed to asbestos or the other named substances above the permissible exposure limit set forth in 29 CFR 1910.1001(c), the employer is required to provide the employee with appropriate protective work clothing and equipment, which includes: (1) coveralls or similar full-body work clothing; (2) gloves, head coverings, and foot coverings; and (3) face shields, vented goggles, or other appropriate protective equipment.

In your letter of January 17, 1991, you requested that we reconsider HRL 085360, stating that while the garment design and construction is adapted for use in contaminated areas, "the fabric itself, which must provide the primary barrier, remains very permeable to the passage of asbestos fibers." In support of this claim, you submitted Determination of the Barrier Effectiveness of Tyvek~ 1422A, Kleenguard~ BP, and Polybond~ to Asbestos Penetration, prepared for you by Todd R. Carroll, Arthur D. Little, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts (Arthur D. Little Reference No. C-608378 (January 1991)), which calculated, among other things, the following:


Fabric Thckns/1 Weight/2 sq. Air Permeability/3 % Holdout/4 (mil) (oz/yd sq.) (ft~/ft squared/min) Efficiency

Tyvek 1422A 4.8 +- 0.5 1.19 +- 0.01 < 1.0 98 +- 2 KleenGuard BP9.3 +- 0.5 1.14 +- 0.04 354 +- 21 56 +- 14 PolyBond 11.6 +- 0.4 1.56 +- 0.04 > 704 23 +- 17


1. Average of five measurements made on each of 15 specimens. 2. Average of 15, 37mm diameter specimens. 3. Average of 15 specimens at 86mm Merrian Red Oil. 4. Mean pooled holdout efficiencies reported at the 95% confidence interval and at an average mean challenge concentration of 3.3 +- 0.7 x 107 fibers/L; average of nine specimens.

Secondly, you are concerned about potential misuse of HRL 085360, in that the ruling will be used by others "in the asbestos supply industry to ~prove' to potential buyers that the U.S. Government has ~approved' the use of these garments for asbestos abatement from a safety point of view."


Whether the polypropylene coveralls were properly classified as apparel for use in hospitals, clinics, laboratories or contaminated areas?


In HRL 085360, we held that the instant garment was classified as "for use in contaminated areas" because it has design features which adapts it for use in asbestos-contaminated areas (attached hood with drawstring, attached boots, elastic closures on wrists), and that the garment is marketed, advertised, and sold in the asbestos abatement community. This decision was correct. Although your Barrier Effectiveness test demonstrated that the "percent holdout efficiency" of PolyBond~ fabric is significantly lower than that of Tyvek~ fabric, this lower efficiency does not disqualify the instant garment from classification under the HTSUSA as "designed for use in contaminated areas." It is well settled that the definition of a term contained in statute or regulation dealing with non-tariff matters, such as public safety, does not determine the common meaning of that term for tariff purposes. International Spring Mfg. Co. v. United States, 496 F.Supp. 279, 282, 85 Cust. Ct. 5, Cust. Dec. 4862 (Jul. 2, 1980), aff'd, 641 F.2d 875, 68 CCPA 13, C.A.D. 1257 (1981) (citations omitted).

Ruling letters issued by the Customs Service interprets and applies Customs and related laws to a specific state of facts. Customs and related laws include the Tariff Act, Customs Regulations, or other legislation or provision administered by the Customs Service. Determination of exposure limits for asbestos abatement materials is not within the purview of the Customs Service. If the instant garment were incapable of being used in contaminated areas, either the marketplace or the other government agencies must be the arbiter of its acceptability. See 57 Fed. Reg. 26002 (June 12, 1992) (OSHA's proposed rule that skin exposure to, inter alia, asbestos be prevented or reduced to the extent possible through the use of gloves, coveralls, goggles, or other appropriate personal protective equipment, engineering controls or work practice). Accordingly, since we previously determined that the instant merchandise is advertised for use in, sold for use in, and used in contaminated areas, HRL 085360 is affirmed.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise remains classified under subheading 6210.10.4010, HTSUSA, as garments, made up of fabrics of heading 5602, 5603, nonwoven disposable apparel designed for use in hospitals, clinics, laboratories or contaminated areas. The applicable rate of duty is 17 percent ad valorem.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling