2-Mercaptobenzothiazole and zinc dialkyldithiocarbamates are commonly used sulfur-containing rubber vulcanization accelerators known to cause allergic contact dermatitis. Exposure to these agents occurs through clothing such as undergarments and shoes, latex medical devices and latex and nitrile gloves. A simple, inexpensive screening method for total sulfur accelerator and a high performance liquid chromatographic speciation method were developed in the present study. These methods were applied to screen and quantify the sulfur accelerator content from 38 brands of 'off-the-shelf' latex and nitrile gloves obtained from commercial vendors. It was found that accelerator levels ranged from not detectable to 7.35 mg/g in the gloves analysed. Brands were found to contain single and multiple accelerator species within the glove. Powdered gloves had significantly higher accelerator levels than powder-free gloves from the same manufacturer; however, these chemical accelerators do not preferentially partition to the powder. The present analytical methodology is suitable for both manufacturing quality validation purposes, as well as for accelerator allergy research.
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