From: Jeffrey Lewin <jclewin**At_Symbol_Here**MTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Disposable Nitrile Gloves - Are they all the same?
Date: May 26, 2013 10:09:06 AM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <8D0276861F94F04-9F0-1B39B**At_Symbol_Here**>

In Biology, disposal glove use tends to fall into several categories: protecting the sample (chemical analysis, DNA work, etc.), non-chemical protection (biohazards, radiation, etc.), in the undergraduate labs we provide them primarily for dissections and to the medical/clinical laboratory sciences (MLS) program and finally they often get worn as a general precaution, in their minds it is like they (should be) wearing eye protection because of the general hazards in the lab. The last one is the most problematic - did they do a hazard determination? Also if not watched it leads to other sloppy habits - going from station to station without changing gloves, wearing them in the hallway, working at a single station for long periods of time without changing them and even taking them off, putting them in their pockets then putting them back on again.

That said, individual researchers buy their own gloves.. I buy them for our teaching labs and, like most labs price and convenience are the usual driving factors. I generally purchase most of my supplies from one of the big scientific suppliers who gives me a generally decent price on everything I buy. I also occasionally check with a second large scientific supplier. There are a lot of companies that sell gloves but make sure that when you get a quote, have them include shipping/freight. The two companies I referred to above provide free/reduced cost shipping and with warehouses in the region even ground shipping comes quickly, both which tip purchases in their favor.

I'd have to go look at my purchase orders, but I believe the gloves I purchase are not the thinnest, but they are sold as "exam gloves" which implies they protection is limited that they need to be frequently changed. In the teaching labs, the hazards are pretty minimal and accidental tearing during a dissection can be mitigated by immediate hand washing. Even the MLS program has limited biohazards (mostly animal blood, fake urine, what limited human blood is used has been tested) where wearing gloves is as much about developing good habits for future employment as real need for protection.

Finally, if you are purchasing bulk quantities, make sure you rotate your stock. Gloves that have been sitting around for a year or two tend to stick together and tear more easily. Unless you expect to go through large quantities continuously, you are better off trying to set up a regular delivery, or negotiate a bulk price based on a purchase commitment but shipped over a longer period of time.

Jeff Lewin
Departmental Laboratory Supervisor
Biological Sciences
Michigan Technological University

On Sat, May 25, 2013 at 10:07 AM, Monona Rossol <actsnyc**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
There is an ASTM permeability test that primary manufacturers use to test their heavy chemicals gloves. Some manufacturers also use this test on their disposable gloves. Since the test is chemical-specific it would be expensive to test every chemical with the disposables, but a few years ago I saw North had some common solvent permeability test data published for their nitrile disposable gloves. And every primary manufacturer has a tech service that you can call. If anyone has this data, these people should.
Be careful they don't try to give you their degradation data. Hell, you can see when a glove begins to degrade. You want to know when the chemical goes through without showing any visible changes in the glove.
The important thing to teach students is no glove is good protection against all chemicals and those that are recommended for a specific chemical only resist it for a while. And that data is highly manufacturer-specific. There are big differences between plastic films deposited on the hand form from a laxex dispersion as opposed to a solvent borne solution. The exact thickness is also a factor. And now there are so many alterations in the polymers, copolymers, tripolymers, etc.
I like to show students and my union trainees a good chart for many gloves and which lists permeation data in minutes. Then they can see how fast some chemicals penetrate even the thick chemical gloves. I specifically have them look at the permeation time for 2-butoxyethanol which they are ALL exposed to at home. Most permeation times through the heavy natural rubber gloves is just a few minutes.
Most disposable rubber latex glove boxes state somewhere on the warning label that they are not to be used for protection against chemicals. And if they don't, they should.
If the students are concerned about the color, this should convince the smart ones there are more important criteria. My personal permeation time for that trivial discussion is under a minute.
Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President: Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012 212-777-0062

-----Original Message-----
From: Don Abramowitz <dabramow**At_Symbol_Here**BRYNMAWR.EDU>
Sent: Fri, May 24, 2013 6:05 pm
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Disposable Nitrile Gloves - Are they all the same?

So, we're looking to consolidate our glove purchasing to see if we can get better deals by buying in bulk. Over the years, we've successfully gotten all of our scientists to use 4 mil disposable nitrile gloves (as opposed to latex or vinyl) as our "default" disposable choice.. Since all of the labs buy their own supplies, we have folks with definite preferences for purple, bright green, blue etc, but I have yet to find any actual data that would suggest that one brand is superior to another in terms of chemical resistance, mechanical integrity, puncture resistance, combustibility, etc.. One frequently sees caveats about differences in manufacturers' formulations making it impossible to apply information about one brand to another, but has anyone come across actual evaluations that show one to be superior to another?

I'd like to have a basis for choosing other than "favorite color," but I'm coming up short. Any suggestions?


Donald Abramowitz
Environmental Health & Safety Officer
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, PA

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.