Glove Selection and Use
Contact dermatitis is the skin's reaction to exposure to allergens or irritants which may result in skin rashes; surprisingly dermatitis is the most commonly reported occupational disease.
It is also important to note that some chemicals like dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), nitrobenzene, and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), easily absorb through the skin and into the bloodstream which may cause harmful effects.
Choosing the proper glove for your laboratory can prevent the possibility of harmful exposure.
When should you wear gloves?
Gloves must be worn when handling hazardous chemicals or materials, corrosives, very hot or very cold items, or materials that have an unknown hazard or toxicity.
When NOT to wear gloves?
Gloves should never be worn outside of the laboratory, nor should clean or common use surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons, telephones, or computer keyboards be touched while you are wearing a glove, even if the glove was just put on or you feel that it is clean.
Out of respect for Case personnel who may not know if you handled hazardous materials or contaminates, all personnel protective equipment should be removed before you leave the laboratory.
Choose the correct glove for the task
It is important to remember that one glove material does not provide protection from all chemicals. Most laboratories use gloves made of latex or nitrile, which will be effective most of the time. When using an acutely toxic material or a material that is known to permeate skin easily, a different type of glove may be needed.
When choosing a glove for your laboratory you should consider three properties of the glove material:
- Breakthrough time: Time it takes for the chemical to travel through the glove material. This is only recorded at the detectable level on the inside surface of the glove.
- Permeation Rate: Time it takes for the chemical to pass through the glove once breakthrough has occurred. This involves the absorption of the chemical into the glove material, migration of the chemical through the material, and then deabsorption once it is inside the glove.
- Degradation rating: This is the physical change that will happen to the glove material as it is affected by the chemical. This includes, but is not limited to swelling, shrinking, hardening, cracking, etc. of the glove material.
|Hazard Level||General Information|
|Low: Incidental chemical contact (occasional drip or splash) EXCEPT for corrosives, toxins, or materials that can readily penetrate skin.||Disposable nitrile gloves are appropriate for most laboratory tasks. Nitrile is more chemically resistant and resistant to rips and tears than latex gloves.|
|Moderate-High: Handling corrosives, toxins, and or materials that readily penetrate the skin. Contact likely with carcinogens, reproductive toxins, mutagens, or other highly toxic chemicals||Glove material must protect hands from chemical permeation and breakthrough. Manufacture’s glove selection chart must be consulted.|
When working with mixtures choose a glove with a long breakthrough time for all chemicals in the mixture.
Manufacturers provide compatibility charts and can be found on their websites or upon request. The following websites can also be consulted:
If you have any questions you should contact EHS at (216) 368-2907.