Selecting the Right Gloves to Use
In November, 2009, a researcher performing a radiochemical synthesis was contaminated with a radioisotope which involved the use of the dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO).
When the researcher noticed the liquid on his glove he notified the senior researcher assisting him. The senior researcher advised him to stop the procedure and check himself for radioactive contamination. The Radiological Control Technician (RCT) was notified and the worker remained in the immediate area until she arrived.
The researcher was surveyed and it was discovered that the radiochemical liquid had penetrated both layers of latex gloves and had contaminated his left thumb.
Researchers in this facility commonly use latex gloves for double gloving and frequent changing of the outer glove is necessary to reduce the risk of spreading radiological contamination. Latex gloves were the preferred PPE in this facility as double gloving involving other glove materials limited dexterity.
In this instance, the researcher came in contact with the radiochemical and did not immediately remove/change the outer glove. It was determined that the chemical dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) had enough time to permeate/break through both sets of latex gloves and contaminate his hand.
In selecting the appropriate glove, when reviewing the job requirements, the degree of dexterity required for each task must be taken into account. Tasks that require fine motor skills, such as laboratory work, may require a thinner glove material, while operations such as industrial parts cleaning may not.
Also, the length of exposure to the chemicals must be considered. Some tasks may require only splash protection or include intermittent contact, while others may involve complete immersion or continual contact with the chemicals.
It's important to remember that although the number of glove choices can be staggering, no one glove can possibly address all types of hand hazards. Gloves are never a substitute for safe work practices or proper engineering controls.
Because different glove materials resist different chemicals, no glove is suited for all chemical exposures. Today, many chemical laboratories use only disposable latex gloves. This is unfortunate, because these gloves do not always provide sufficient protection against the variety of chemicals used in a lab. In most cases, latex gloves provide nothing more than a false sense of security for employees.
Glove selection should be based only on the glove manufacturer's chemical resistance guides or recommendations. From this information, choose the glove material that is most resistant to the chemicals being used. The actual resistance of a glove material may also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so make sure the selection is based on the correct manufacturer's data.
Most glove manufacturers provide glove selection charts for you to refer to. The following website has links to most manufacturer’s Glove Compatibility Charts: www.ehs.ufl.edu/Lab/CHP/gloves.htm
Last Modified: May 26, 2010