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Integrity of disposable nitrile exam gloves exposed to simulated movement.

Phalen-RN; Wong-WK
J Occup Environ Hyg 2011 May; 8(5):289-299
Every year, millions of health care, first responder, and industry workers are exposed to chemical and biological hazards. Disposable nitrile gloves are a common choice as both a chemical and physical barrier to these hazards, especially as an alternative to natural latex gloves. However, glove selection is complicated by the availability of several types or formulations of nitrile gloves, such as low-modulus, medical grade, low filler, and cleanroom products. This study evaluated the influence of simulated movement on the physical integrity (i.e., holes) of different nitrile exam glove brands and types. Thirty glove products were evaluated out-of-box and after exposure to simulated whole-glove movement for 2 hr. In lieu of the traditional 1 L water-leak test, a modified water-leak test, standardized to detect a 0.15 +/- 0.05 mm hole in different regions of the glove, was developed. A specialized air inflation method simulated bidirectional stretching and whole-glove movement. A worst-case scenario with maximum stretching was evaluated. On average, movement did not have a significant effect on glove integrity (chi-square; p = 0.068). The average effect was less than 1% between no movement (1.5%) and movement (2.1%) exposures. However, there was significant variability in glove integrity between different glove types (p < / = 0.05). Cleanroom gloves, on average, had the highest percentage of leaks, and 50% failed the water-leak test. Low-modulus and medical grade gloves had the lowest percentages of leaks, and no products failed the water-leak test. Variability in polymer formulation was suspected to account for the observed discrepancies, as well as the inability of the traditional 1 L water-leak test to detect holes in finger/thumb regions. Unexpectedly, greater than 80% of the glove defects were observed in the finger and thumb regions. It is recommended that existing water-leak tests be re-evaluated and standardized to account for product variability.
Hazardous-materials; Health-care-personnel; Personal-protective-equipment; Gloves; Nitriles; Emergency-responders; Medical-equipment; Simulation-methods; Leak-detectors; Clean-rooms; Equipment-reliability; Skin-protection; Hand-protection; Author Keywords: dermal protection; infection control; penetration; personal protective clothing; personal protective equipment; protective gloves
Robert N. Phalen, Department of Health Science and Human Ecology, California State University San Bernardino, San Bernardino, 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407-2397, USA
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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
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California State University - San Bernardino