You have to choose the best chemical-resistant gloves! It is not negotiable!
Our hands are very vulnerable, so protecting them from dangerous hazardous chemicals is essential.
Among the most dangerous hazards are chemicals. However, the definition of the word “chemical” is such a broad one.
A chemical is any substance produced because of a chemical process. It means we are surrounded by chemicals all the time!
Hence, using chemical-resistant gloves is critical to protect ourselves from hazardous exposures. And the type of glove used for this purpose depends on the chemicals you will be exposed to.
Therefore, in this article, we will introduce you to; the essential features of chemical-resistant gloves and the different types of chemical-resistant gloves. Additionally, we will guide you so that you will be able to select the right glove type.
What are the features of chemical-resistant gloves?
You are probably wondering, “how do I choose the right glove for my employees?”.
You should ask yourself several questions to help you determine which type of chemical-resistant gloves will be suitable.
- What are the chemicals in question?
- Do they immerse their hands entirely in the chemical?
- Do the gloves need to protect the hand only, should it reach the elbow, or should it cover the entire arm?
- How much mobility is needed to perform specific tasks while wearing the gloves?
- What is the duration of contact with the used chemicals?
- What are the concentration and the temperature of the chemicals in question?
Answering these questions will provide a general idea of what types of chemical resistant-gloves you should consider.
Critical features in chemical resistant gloves
Once you have a general idea of what you need in a glove, you need to know the features of chemical-resistant gloves;
1. Durability and Thickness
For general protection against chemicals, people commonly use latex gloves. However, when more robust security is required, or if the gloves will be at risk of abrasion.
Therefore, chemical-resistant gloves need to be thick to maintain protection.
Moreover, withstanding frequent exposure to different chemicals is one of the main features of these types of gloves.
2. Grip and Dexterity
The right glove should protect without impairing mobility.
Indeed, workers performing critical tasks use chemical-resistant gloves that can provide a firm grip.
Additionally, we must note that the thicker the glove, the more protection it offers and the lower grip it provides.
3. Inner and outer lining
Other materials enter the manufacturing process of different chemical-resistant gloves, yet they mostly share this common feature.
Indeed, they are linked on the inside to protect the skin from the harsh nature of the glove material.
Additionally, textured finishes are applied to the gloves’ exterior to provide a better grip.
Performing a general assessment of the employees’ needs is essential.
To select suitable chemical-resistant gloves. An employer must also consider several factors while purchasing protective gear.
Indeed, these factors include the nature of the gloves’ tasks, the duration of exposure to chemical hazards, and the degree of mobility offered by the gloves.
What are the uses of chemical-resistant gloves?
Even though chemical-resistant gloves are mainly used when handling chemicals, most people think of chemicals as liquids.
But we can find chemicals in other forms!
Therefore, the use of chemical-resistant gear -including gloves- is encouraged when dealing with solid and gas chemicals as well.
Now allow me to share with you some tasks that require the use of chemical-resistant gloves.
- Changing a toner cartridge
- Working with adhesives
- Washing engine parts
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Performing an oil change
- Decanting substances from a large receptacle into a smaller one
What are the different types of chemical-resistant gloves?
Different chemical-resistant gloves require unique material to protect against various types of chemicals.
Thus, choosing the right size for your gloves is important, but selecting the suitable material is essential.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), different types of rubber enter the manufacture of chemical-resistant gloves as follows;
- Latex (natural)
- Fluorocarbon (Viton)
Or they can be made with different types of plastic such as:
- Polyvinyl chloride
- Polyvinyl alcohol
What are the main features I should consider in the chemical-resistant gloves?
Indeed, selecting the right material while selecting the suitable material, you should consider several factors as follows;
1. Breakthrough Time
It is the time taken by the chemical after initial contact detection on the inner surface of the glove.
A greater than value (>) is how breakthrough time expression.
What does that mean?
It means that if a specific chemical enters a glove for 70 minutes, and then after this period, if it doesn’t appear on the inside of the glove, the breakthrough time will be >70 mins.
It is the change to the nature of the glove that takes place due to exposure to chemicals. The degradation of the gloves takes place in several forms:
- Cracking of the material
However, a rating system calculates the glove’s grades. If the glove shows little or no degradation when exposed to a hazardous chemical, it is given the letter “E” for excellent.
3. Permeation Rate
It is the rate by which the chemical moves through the glove material. This process consists of several steps:
- Absorption on the glove surface
- Diffusion of the chemical through the material
- Desorption on the glove’s inside surface
The permeation rate is expressed using a numeric value and as follows;
- Excellent (E)
- Good (G)
- Fair (F)
- Poor (P)
Glove permeation guides usually provide data on the use of chemical-resistant gloves while dealing with pure chemicals only.
So, combining chemicals to produce mixtures can change the chemicals and physical properties and shift the permeation rates.
Thus, this requires more research if you consider purchasing gloves to handle combined chemicals.
When choosing the suitable material for your chemical-resistant gloves, you need to take into consideration:
- The time it will take for the chemical to reach the inner surface of the glove
- The rate by which the glove will degrade and lose its original integrity
- The speed by which the chemical can penetrate the glove
What are materials used for chemical-resistant glove manufacture?
1.Natural (latex) rubber gloves
Latex gloves are comfortable to wear. They provide elasticity and strength, making them a popular choice.
On the other hand, they can protect the hand from most solutions like acids, alkalis, and salts.
However, latex gloves can cause an allergic reaction. Therefore, they are not suitable for all employees.
In fact, Latex gloves can protect solutions such as:
- Nitric acid
- Sulphuric acid
- Sodium hydroxide
- Acetic acid
- Some weed killers
What are the uses of latex gloves?
- Food industry
- Pharmaceutical industry
Latex gloves are resistant to several chemicals; therefore, handling acids and alkalis with this glove is perfect.
Yet, they can cause some allergies, thus not suitable for all employees.
2. Butyl gloves
A synthetic rubber material enters in manufacturing of this type of glove since it has a dense molecular structure.
Indeed, they are highly resistant to gas and vapors. Thus, they protect esters and ketones.
Additionally, butyl gloves also resist oxidation, ozone corrosion, and abrasion. Butyl gloves are also flexible at low temperatures.
Butyl gloves can protect you against the following chemicals;
- Highly concentrated acids
- Amine derivatives
- Rocket fuels
- Strong bases
However, butyl gloves have some disadvantages. They don’t provide optimum resistance against aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons and halogenated solvents.
Butyl gloves are the most resistant and provide the most optimum protection against various chemicals. They also provide elasticity and flexibility. They are the most recommended chemical-resistant gloves.
3. Neoprene gloves
The synthetic rubber material is the main component of this type of glove.
Neoprene provides excellent heat resistance. Moreover, it provides moderate abrasion resistance; thus, several industries use this glove.
Thus, the gloves’ chemical and wear-resistance properties make them superior to other gloves, such as those made of natural rubber (latex).
Neoprene is suitable when handling petroleum-based products, acids, and caustics such as:
- Hydraulic fluids
- Organic acids
- Aliphatic solvents
Here are industries that use neoprene gloves:
- Industrial cleaning
- Chemical treatment of metal
Despite their efficacy, neoprene gloves can lose their grip when damp.
Neoprene gloves provide moderate resistance to chemicals. they are also perfect as oil-resistant gloves!
Indeed, they offer better protection than latex gloves, yet, their effectiveness can be compromised when dealing with water solutions.
The copolymer is the main component of this type of glove.
The advantages of this glove are many, as follows;
- Benefits of both latex and PVC
- Good mobility and sensitivity
- Better resistance to deterioration, punctures are easier to detect when using nitrile chemical-resistant gloves.
It resists several chemicals and is perfect when handling materials such as:
- Benzylic alcohol
- Brake fluid
- Cutting oil
- Household detergents
- Mineral oil
Nitrile gloves have many industrial applications, such as;
- Preparing and applying paint and varnish
- Treating and finishing timber
- The food industry
- Automotive industry
- Industrial cleaning
However, nitrile gloves are less flexible. They also fail to protect against chemicals such as aromatic solvents, concentrated acids, and highly corrosive chemicals.
Although, they fail to protect against dangerous hazardous chemicals.
Nitrile gloves are among the most effective chemical-resistant gloves when you’re looking for flexibility. They also protect a wide range of chemicals.
5. Fluorocarbon (Viton) gloves
Fluoroelastomer material is the main component of these gloves.
Indeed, it offers specific chemical resistance to chlorinated and aromatic solvents. Therefore, Viton gloves are the most expensive.
Even though Viton gloves show minimal resistance to abrasions, they provide the best flexibility.
In the market, laboratories are the most common workplaces that purchase Viton gloves.
Viton gloves protect against chemicals such as:
- PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyl)
Viton gloves provide specific protection making them one of the most expensive chemical-resistant gloves.
6. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gloves
It is mainly composed of a synthetic thermoplastic polymer.
These gloves provide advantages that range from;
- Good grip and resist abrasion
- The best chemical-resistant gloves.
- Resist most acids, fats, and petroleum hydrocarbons
They are additionally effective against chemicals as:
- Ammonium hydroxide
- Benzylic alcohol
- Boric acid
- Diluted sulphuric acid
- Sodium hypochlorite
- Photo developer fixer
- Phosphoric acid
- Household detergents
- Ethylene glycol
- Chromic acid
These chemical-resistant glove applications range from:
- Commercial fishing
- Fuel oil
- Mechanic work
However, PVC gloves fail to protect against organic solvents. Their effectiveness is also affected by hot temperatures.
PVC gloves are protective against a wide range of chemicals. Even though they are sensitive to hot temperatures, but work well in cold temperatures.
7. Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) gloves
PVA gloves are manufactured using water-soluble synthetic material.
PVA is highly resistant to gases.
Additionally, PVA gloves offer chemical resistance to aromatic and chlorinated solvents.
Polyvinyl alcohol protects against:
- chlorinated solvents
- Most ketones.
However, PVA gloves cannot be used in water or water-based solutions. This type of chemical-resistant gloves degrades easily when exposed to light alcohols.
PVA gloves are resistant to gases yet lose their integrity and efficacy when exposed to water.
7. Natural vs. Rubber vs. Plastic chemical-resistant gloves
Synthetic gloves are usually a better option. It can attribute to the low resistance offered by latex and its possible sensitivity risks.
However, choosing a suitable synthetic material depends on:
- Puncture resistance
- The task is performed
Other factors to consider when choosing chemical-resistant gloves:
When selecting the right glove choosing the material is essential, but other factors also contribute to the selection process, such as;
Chemical-resistant gloves are made for multiple uses; therefore, they are meant to be comfortable. It requires them to be comfortable on the inside and the outside.
Chemical-resistant gloves are lined inside with textile fibers for good perspiration absorption.
Therefore, the lining process is composed of the following materials:
- Cotton provides temperature insulation and absorbs perspiration
- Polyamide offers optimal fingertip sensitivity
- Para-aramid highly resistant to heat and abrasions
- HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) is highly flexible
The outside comfort is essential for providing a good grip.
Chemical-resistant gloves that are textured on the outside provide better grip. They are also better suited for oily environments. However, smooth gloves do not mark the objects touched.
Thickness is another factor that contributes to choosing chemical-resistant gloves.
On the other hand, the thickness of a glove should range from 0.05 mm to about 2.5 mm to ensure protection.
Additionally, it is known that thicker gloves are more comfortable than thinner ones.
Comfort and thickness are essential when choosing chemical-resistant gloves.
A glove should be lined, textured, and thick most of the time to be suitable for handling chemicals.
However, compromises may be needed and should be considered in the selection process, especially between these three factors.
How to choose the right size for your chemical-resistant glove?
Small or large gloves can lower flexibility and obstruct movement.
Therefore, choosing the right size is a must. To determine the size of your gloves, you need to measure the circumference and length of your hand.
Thus, follow the following steps to help you determine your glove size:
- Lay a tape measure across your knuckles.
- Turn your palm so that it faces upwards, and place the tape across your palm.
- Cross the tape measure so you can see the outline of your palm.
- Check the size chart for each glove manufacturer to determine which size fits your circumference.
When should I replace my chemical-resistant glove?
Regular inspections should be performed to ensure the gloves are still intact.
No matter how thick the glove material is, it will degrade with time.
Also, all gloves are prone to punctures. Therefore, inflating the gloves or immersing them in water can be used to detect holes.
However, all gloves must be disposed of according to the lifetime stated by their manufacturer.
Choosing chemical-resistant gloves can seem like a challenging process. We offer you this four-step guide to selecting the right glove type.
First, examine your work environment and assess the possible risks. Determine the types of hazards you will face.
Then, evaluate chemical glove types to help you choose the suitable material.
Afterward, determine whether the selected glove type will help in performance while providing adequate comfort.
Finally, ensure you select the right glove size to avoid obstruction of work and read more about the EN374 glove users guide.
Now that you are familiar with the features of chemical gloves, their types, and their effectiveness, you are well prepared to make the right choice.