What are Nitrile Gloves?

Nitrile gloves are manufactured from a petroleum-based, cross-linked synthetic latex film that is formed by the co-polymerization of butadiene with acrylonitrile to yield a nitrile elastomer.

What are the characteristics of Nitrile Gloves?

Nitrile conforms to the shape of wearers hands, has good puncture resistance, greater chemical protection and, because they contain no latex proteins, Type 1 Latex Allergy is eliminated.

What is the difference between Nitrile and Latex?

There are many differences between the two substances. The primary differences between latex and nitrile are as follows:

Latex is made from the natural milky sap found in the rubber tree Hevea Brasiliensis.

Nitrile is synthetic tri-polymer that displays similar characteristics to rubber once it has been vulcanised ( a process where the latex film is heated, and the combination of sulphur, accelerator and heat cause cross-linking of the rubber, giving strength and elasticity to the film).

Nitrile also has no natural rubber proteins and therefore eliminates the well-documented protein risks associated with natural rubber latex.

What about Glove Allergies?

A glove allergy, or hypersensitivity, occurs when a person's immune system reacts to the natural latex proteins and/or the additives used during the manufacturing process of gloves. The reactions range from mild (skin rash, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes) to more extreme manifestations such as facial or throat swelling, and difficulty in breathing. Whilst most allergies or sensitivities are generally slight, a very small percentage of users may experience very severe reactions.

How do I know if I have a latex allergy?

The only way to know for sure if you have a true latex allergy is to have allergy testing done. Some examples of common reactions may include:
Skin rashes or reactions on your hands from wearing rubber gloves.
Rashes on your face or skin from touching it if you did not wash your hands after wearing rubber gloves.

Tingling, swelling or rashes on your lips or face after blowing up a balloon, or having rubber products near your face.
Skin rashes, itching, or swelling from wearing clothes with rubber elastics next to your skin, such as a bra or underwear.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 4 Allergies?

Type 1: The most serious and rare form, type 1 is an immediate and potentially life-threatening reaction, not unlike the severe reaction some people have to bee stings. This form of Allergy is normally associated with latex proteins. Latex allergies can be acquired over time due to prolonged contact with latex products.

Type 4: Also known as allergic contact dermatitis. This involves a delayed skin rash with blistering and oozing of the skin, and is usually attributed to the accelerators used in the processing of rubber products. PROTEC Healthcare offer products that are manufactured without accelerators - further information can be supplied on request

How is a Cat 3 glove recognisable from a Cat 1 glove?

All PPE must be CE marked and any Cat 3 PPE has to be examined and approved by a Notified Body before it can be brought to market. Cat 1 will have a simple CE mark and Cat 3 will have a CE mark plus the number of the Notified Body, e.g. CE 0120.

Some manufacturers may put the wording 'Cat 3' or similar on their packaging, but this has no meaning within the regulations. The term Cat 3 or Category 3 is a colloquial expression that has emerged from the PPE community because it easier to say than 'PPE of complex design’.

When does a PPE glove become a Category 3 Glove for chemical protection?

According to the Personal Protective Equipment Directive (89/686/EC) any 'PPE providing only limited protection against chemical attack...' is PPE of complex design, i.e. Cat 3.

Any glove that protects against 'cleaning materials of weak action and easily reversible effects (gloves affording protection against diluted detergent solutions, etc.)' are defined as simple design by the directive, i.e. Cat 1.

So, any glove that is intended to protect against anything other than the weakest of chemicals is a Cat 3 glove.

Is there a recommended method for disposing of used gloves?

The method of glove disposal depends on how the glove was used.

If the glove is contaminated with a toxic compound or biological material that is covered by any disposal regulations, the gloves must be handled in the same way as the toxic material itself.

If gloves are not contaminated or have been properly decontaminated, either landfill or incineration is a satisfactory means of disposal (see below).

Since ordinary aerobic or anaerobic decomposition processes in gloves will not form any toxic products, gloves may be disposed of in any landfill. Breakdown in landfill will be very slow except for products made of natural rubber. Incineration is an optimum choice, but glove disposal by incineration can lead to pollution by the release of toxins. However, a good incinerator unit will completely burn all types of gloves as well as any intermediate decomposition products formed during the process.
The environmental impact of used-glove disposal has become an increasing concern for all industries. The factors that must be considered when choosing incineration or disposal in a landfill vary with material type:

  1. Combustion of natural rubber latex gloves is quite clean, although some hydrocarbons, minute quantities of unreacted nitrogen-based chemicals, and sulphur dioxide may be produced at low incineration temperatures. In a landfill, residual chemicals will leach out as the rubber biodegrades.
  2. Incineration of vinyl gloves reduces the PVC to hydrochloric acid gas, minor residual chemicals, and ash. Under standard landfill conditions, vinyl is not biodegradable. However, esters of phthalic acid, which are used as plasticizers and make up about 50% of the total volume, will leach from the material if it comes in contact with nonaqueous solvents. Before choosing incineration for PVC gloves, users should ensure that local laws do not ban such a practice.
  3. Nitrogen-based reaction products are released minimally during incineration of nitrile gloves; the other chemical by-products are similar to those produced by natural latex. In a landfill, residual chemicals such as accelerators will leach out, as they do in rubber gloves; the nitrile itself will resist degradation.
  4. Polychloroprene gloves release hydrochloric acid gas, carbon monoxide and dioxide, various hydrocarbon and partially oxidised hydrocarbon and partially oxidised organic compounding chemicals during incineration and they are not biodegradable. Always comply with local regulatory agencies rules for proper disposal.

Is there a recommended method for removing gloves?

Removing gloves (known as doffing) can be done safely by removing one of the gloves by peeling from the cuff down to leave it inside out. The removed glove should be held scrunched in the gloved hand and the glove removed from that hand in the same manner. The first glove will then be contained within the second glove and the pair can be disposed of in accordance with standard operating procedures.

What is the easiest way to put on a glove?

To put a glove on the hand (known as donning) the hands should be clean and dry. Slide the glove into the hand and pull the cuff part of the glove onto the wrist and ensure a comfortable fit especially around the fingers.

Can I re-use the gloves?

The gloves are single use only and should not be re-used, for reasons that the gloves will be contaminated with germs which will not be removed effectively at all with washing. Washing in itself will reduce the barrier properties of the gloves.

What are the storage guidelines for gloves?

Gloves should always be stored in the original packaging in a cool, dry and well ventilated area. 
Protect the gloves from dust, direct sunlight, moisture, X-ray, and excesses of temperature. 
Generally we recommend storage temperatures of between 5 and 35 degrees centigrade.

What is the shelf life of gloves?

Providing gloves are correctly stored in the right conditions, they do not have a fixed shelf life. In fact the stated shelf life can vary from product to product and is determined by a combination of industry norms and regulatory requirements.

I've heard about gloves with holes in them!

No producer in the world can guarantee that their gloves are free from pinholes. This fact is recognised by the industry worldwide, and even though all steps are taken to reduce them to a minimum, pinholes are an unavoidable fact of life. 

To help understand the process, gloves are made by dipping ceramic formers into a tank of liquid natural latex (or other materials). 
During this dipping, bubbles very occasionally attach themselves to the former as it passes through the tank. Any air bubble attached to a former can cause a thin spot in the film that can turn into a pin hole.

To address this issue, the EN 455 European Standard for Medical Gloves sets an absolute limit for the incidence of pinholes, which is set according to the International Standard ISO 2859-1 Sampling by Attributes. For example, the EN 455 standard states that for Medical Gloves, the General Inspection Level 1 has to be used with a level of AQL 1.5 (Acceptance Quality Limit) 

Translating these requirements into practical terms means that if we manufacture a batch of over 500,000 gloves a random sample of 500 pieces has to be taken and tested for pinholes. Of these 500 samples, if 14 or fewer have pinholes the batch is of an acceptable standard. If 15 or more have pinholes the entire batch has to be rejected.

What standards do PROTEC Nitrile Gloves conform to?

Glove Testing Methods Freedom from Holes The Association of Testing Materials (ASTM) standards require that gloves be air tested, as per ASTM D5151, to confirm quality meets specifications. Manufacturers of surgical and examination grade gloves are also required by the FDA to water test the gloves for pinholes. In both of these processes, gloves are inflated with air or water and visually inspected for holes and other defects.

Physical RequirementsTensile strength and elongation are measured before and after aging, as per methods specified in ASTM D412 and D573, to ensure the glove's durability and flexibility conform to ASTM requirements.