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Gloves less safe than assumed Protection level determines choice of gloves
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Gloves less safe than assumed

Protection level determines choice of gloves

How safe are gloves that protect the wearer’s hands for less than a second upon contact with a solvent? And how safe are gloves made of a material that migrates to the skin and harms the wearer’s health? SHE officers are starting to realize that not all gloves are created equal. At the Laborama safety seminar in Spring 2017, Ann Van den Borre, Senior Technical Manager and Guardian Chemical at Ansell HealthCare Europe, pointed out that many analysts do not know enough about the responsible use of safety gloves. The protection gloves offer against chemicals depends on their thickness and the type of material they are made of. Lab technicians usually wear disposable latex or vinyl gloves because these offer touch sensitivity. What few technicians know is that these gloves only provide splash protection. Once fouled, a vinyl or latex glove should be replaced immediately.
Protection level determines choice of gloves GLOVES LESS SAFE THAN ASSUMED How safe are gloves that protect the wearer’s hands for less than a second upon contact with a solvent? And how safe are gloves made of a material that migrates to the skin and harms the wearer’s health? SHE of cers are starting to realize that not all gloves are created equal. At the Laborama safety seminar in Spring 2017, Ann Van den Borre, Senior Technical Manager and Guardian Chemical at Ansell HealthCare Europe, pointed out that many analysts do not know enough about the responsible use of safety gloves. The protection gloves offer against chemicals depends on their thickness and the type of material they are made of. Lab technicians usually wear disposable latex or vinyl gloves because these offer touch sensitivity. What few technicians know is that these gloves only provide splash protection. Once fouled, a vinyl or latex glove should be replaced immediately. SHIELDskin gloves They are made of such thin material that solvents permeate them immediately. When used correctly and replaced regularly, such gloves can still give adequate protection, said Van den Borre. This does mean that lab personnel must be educated about the proper use and limitations of these disposables. If not, these gloves offer only a false sense of safety. Nitrile is the safer option, Van den Borre stressed. Nitrile gloves are thicker and far more resistant to corrosion. No more latex The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) stopped using latex gloves in 2011. Frans Mabesoone, the Authority’s laboratory supplies buyer, explains why: “Latex gloves were standard issue everywhere until the NVWA concluded from its own research that frequent use of latex gloves by hospital staff could be harmful due to noxious substances migrating from the latex through the skin. Simply put, wearing latex on a daily basis is not a good idea. Even if you’re not allergic, you’re better off not wearing latex gloves.” Levels of protection At the NVWA, lab technicians can choose from three levels of protection, said Mabesoone. “The suitability of a glove is determined by its permeability by organic solvents. We use SHIELDskin’s ecoSHIELD gloves for regular protection. These are not fully chemical resistant. They protect the wearer from contact with nitric acid for 8 hours, for instance, while ethanol breaks through in 11 minutes and acetic acid in 4 minutes. For technicians working with more corrosive substances, we use SHIELDskin gloves, which are stronger, thicker and virus resistant, which is important for people working in our PCR lab. These gloves keep your hands safe from hexane for as long as 6 hours and from 70% ethyl alcohol for 34 minutes. However, chloroform and acetonitrile will break right through them! If you work with these substances, you need to be wearing ‘Simply put, wearing latex on a daily basis is not a good idea’ SHIELDskin CHEM gloves. Those protect your hands from ethyl alcohol for 154 minutes, from acetic acid for 90 minutes and from acetone for 7 minutes.” Coin drops Mabesoone does not know these permeation times off the top of his head. He gets these from the chemical resistance chart that comes with the gloves. Lab technicians are familiarized with these charts in glove education classes or meetings. “Peo- ple shouldn’t think that just because they’re wearing gloves, they’re adequately protected.” We’ve posted lists on the in- tranet with the various levels of protection and charts detailing which gloves to wear in what circumstances. People tend to think we’re being alarmist, until you show them the charts. Then the coin drops and they suddenly realize what the risks are. It has resulted in many more people wearing gloves and also in them wearing more suitable gloves for the task at hand. Our work to educate people over the past few years has paid off. The message has sunk in. And this gives us a reason to believe we can reduce exposure in the long run.” SAFETY COMES AT A PRICE The thicker and more chemical resistant, the pricier the glove. Standard nitrile and latex gloves cost approximately the same. Premium brand gloves cost about 5 eurocents apiece. Slightly thicker nitrile gloves (more chemical resistant), cost about 10 eurocents apiece. A 1 mm thick nitrile glove that offers extensive protection against corrosive chemicals costs about 50 eurocents per glove. 38 LABinsights | December 2017 December 2017 | LABinsights 39
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