Different kinds of gloves provide different kinds of protection. You may need several types of gloves to provide protection against the hazardous substances in your workplace. To ascertain which glove material is most suitable for a particular hazardous exposure, always check with the chemical Safety Data Sheet, the glove manufacturer, and always follow the applicable Hazard Control Plan requirements.
Glove effectiveness is measured in terms of the following characteristics:
- Degradation — A change in a glove’s physical characteristics (swelling, softening, cracking, change in color or texture)
- Permeation rate — The speed at which a hazardous substance penetrates the glove material.
- Breakthrough time — The time between initial contact and first detection of the hazardous substance inside the glove.
Consult this chart for an overview of commonly used glove types and their general advantages and disadvantages:
||Advantages and disadvantages
|Latex (natural rubber)
- Good for biological and water-based materials
- Poor for organic solvents
- Little chemical protection
- Hard to detect puncture holes
- Can cause or trigger latex allergies
- Good for cut resistance*
- Good for flame resistance*
- Good for reusability
- No chemical protection
- Good for solvents, oils, greases, and some acids and bases
- Clear indication of tears and breaks
- Good alternative for those with latex allergies
- Good for ketones and esters
- Poor for gasoline and aliphatic, aromatic, and halogenated hydrocarbons
- Good for acids, bases, alcohols, fuels, peroxides, hydrocarbons, and phenols
- Poor for halogenated and aromatic hydrocarbons
- Good for most hazardous chemicals
- Poor fit (Note: Dexterity can be partially regained by using a heavier weight Nitrile glove over the Norfoil glove. Also, 4H brand gloves tend to provide better dexterity than the Silver Shield brand.)
- Good for chlorinated and aromatic solvents
- Good resistance to cuts and abrasions
- Poor for ketones
|Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Good for acids, bases, oils, fats, peroxides, and amines
- Good resistance to abrasions
- Poor for most organic solvents
|Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)
- Good for aromatic and chlorinated solvents
- Poor for water-based solutions
*For work with liquid pyrophoric chemicals outside of a glove box, appropriate hand protection must include chemically resistant outer gloves (Ansell 25-201 NeoTouch® neoprene gloves) on top of an approved flame resistant (FR) inner glove or glove liner (Ansell 70-200 Kevlar Liner gloves).
If flame-resistant gloves compromise dexterity due to the nature of the work, contact the Chemical Safety Officer
(858-822-1579) for guidance. Never reuse disposable gloves.
- Always check gloves for holes, punctures, tears, cracking and discoloration before each use.
- Replace gloves as soon as signs of degradation appear.
- Long-term exposure and damage to a glove’s surface can quickly reduce the protection offered.
- Direct chemical contact, soiled or torn gloves should be removed immediately, the hands washed and gloves replaced with a new pair.
- With disposable gloves, remove by peeling from the wrist and working toward your fingers.
- Keep the working surface of the glove from contacting your skin during removal.
- Place the discarded gloves in the designated container (See the "Disposal" section below.)
- Never wash or reuse disposable gloves.
- Reusable gloves must be washed before removal, handled only by the cuff and then properly stored.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water when changing into fresh gloves and after working with any hazardous materials.
- Always remove gloves when picking up a telephone, touching door knobs, elevator buttons, or other equipment others touch bare-handed. Transport hazardous materials between labs using secondary containers that can be carried without gloves. Personal protective equipment should never be worn outside the laboratory area. (See printable PDF)
- Double gloving — Use double gloves to provide additional protection while still allowing freedom of movement. If a spill occurs, or if the glove starts to degrade or tear, hands will be protected after the contaminated outer gloves are removed. Check the outer glove frequently for signs of degradation, such as a change in color or texture. Re-glove whenever degradation occurs.
- Sleeve length — Make sure your gloves overlap the lower sleeves and cuffs of your lab coat or coverall when working with hazardous materials. Long-sleeved gloves or disposable arm-shields may be worn for further protection. Chemical resistant sleeve protectors are available through the PPE Office.
- Glove boxes — These sealed containers give additional protection when working with a highly toxic substance. They also provide an inert atmosphere for compounds that are sensitive to water or air. Glove bags serve the same purpose, and are more economical for short-term uses.
Dispose of used and damaged gloves according to whether or not they are contaminated with a hazardous material:
Natural rubber or latex gloves DO NOT offer adequate protection against most hazardous materials and should only be used if recommended by a manufacturer for a particular chemical. Repeated exposure to latex and latex products may result in the development of latex allergies. To avoid latex sensitivity, switch to nitrile or another non-latex chemical appropriate disposable glove.
Note: Latex allergy is often associated with allergies to certain foods, especially avocados, potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, chestnuts, kiwi and papaya.
Types of Latex Reactions:
- Irritant contact dermatitis — A common reaction even in those who don’t have a true latex allergy, which produces itchy, dry and irritated hands from wearing powdered latex gloves.
- Allergic contact dermatitis — A sensitivity that results from exposure to the chemicals added to latex, which produces a rash that begins 1 or 2 days after contact and may produce oozing blisters that are localized near the area of contact, but can spread to other parts of the body if touched.
- Latex allergy — An immediate reaction to latex exposure with symptoms that can include hives, itching, nausea, abdominal cramping and facial swelling with itchy, watery eyes. Emergency treatment for anaphylaxis may be required.
How to Respond to a Latex Reaction:
- Learn to recognize the signs of latex allergies: rashes, hives, itching, eye irritation, nasal or sinus irritation, asthma, coughing or shortness of breath, or (rarely) shock.
- If you develop any of these symptoms, report a possible latex reaction to your supervisor and contact COEM for a medical evaluation.