A Complete guide to Nitrile Gloves

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Technology and science, in general, continue to make life easier for the better part of the world. Frankly, a significant percentage of the globe’s population cannot be otherwise pleased about the continuously advancing technology. The science products are brilliant, but we cannot assume the risks of working in specific environments. It is not a secret that several employees suffer from complications following accidents in labs and industries that deal with dangerous equipment and machinery. We are talking about chemical burns, cuts, piercings, contamination, inhalation, scrapes, and heat burns, among others. Opportunely, numerous companies specialize in manufacturing PPE that protects employees from physical, chemical, and other potential work-related injuries. The FDA-approved gloves, goggles, respirators, isolation, gowns, and safety footwear are vital regarding improving workplace safety. This article will focus on the beneficial details about one type of PPE: nitrile gloves. First, what does nitrile gloves mean? Are nitrile gloves safe?

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What are Nitrile Gloves?

Nitrile gloves are material used for hand protection like every other type of glove. However, the process of manufacturing the glove aims at eliminating abrasion and chemical contamination. This is because nitrile gloves are synthetic and thicker than standard latex and vinyl material. Following safety reviews, many employees who work in hazardous environments prefer gloves due to their advanced safety and operation. The rise of the nitrile glove began around two decades ago when challenges associated with latex material kept escalating. However, manufacturers found it difficult to process the new high-end gloves due to the high expenses incurred following the shortage of raw material. Currently, the majority of lab employees use nitrile gloves as they are latex-free. COVID-19 puts extreme pressure on the production of safety wear. Since the start of Coronavirus, the demand for disposable nitrile gloves rose by 45%, which should increase by the end of 2021.

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Are Nitrile Gloves Food Safe?

Globally, people suffer from serious health problems caused by ingesting contaminated food. This is a result of exposure to chemicals and other contaminants such as microbes. Therefore there is a need to observe proper hygiene when performing food-associated activities such as inspection, storage, and distribution. Gloves are essential in relation to food safety and palatability. They also protect you from contaminants associated with raw food. However, disposable gloves consist of substances that may contaminate edibles. Thus, synthetic material used for handling edibles requires certifications such as HACCP. For the sake of health preservation, nitrile gloves comply with all the FDA regulations regarding food handling. At present, nitrile is the safest glove regarding food processing and handling. Following credible reviews, nitrile gloves are 21 CFR 177 certified, therefore, should not cause any health complications. More so, the gloves are comfortable to use with wet hands resulting from washing or exposure to a sweaty food processing environment. It would be best for food handling safety if you checked for the FDA or HACCP certification mentioned on the glove’s package.

Do Nitrile Gloves Contain Latex?

The use of latex gloves began in the 1980s when a scientist recommended them for protection against dangerous pathogens such as HIV. Nevertheless, many people are allergic to latex material. Latex contains processing chemicals such as zinc oxide, antioxidants, pigments, and sulfur, to mention a few. These chemicals cause distinct allergic reactions to users, including; difficulty breathing, hives, wheezing, nausea, and weak pulse: these are severe symptoms. According to medical sources, latex allergy can occur either through inhalation or direct contact. Though latex gloves are cost-effective, comfortable, and have sufficient touch sensitivity, it is vital to work with PPE that provides 100% protection with zero complications. Nitrile gloves may be the ultimate solution to handling food, heavy equipment, corrosive chemicals, and other contaminants. They provide efficient safety without posing any potential health risks to the user. The gloves come from synthetic rubber, which is latex-free. The World Health Organization states that super gloves will solve your most challenging science problems while shielding your skin and respiratory system from multiple allergens.

Components of Nitrile Gloves

Unlike ordinary latex made of natural rubber, we manufacture nitrile gloves using synthetic rubber. The gloves consist of a family of unsaturated polymers. NBR is a combination of two polymers: acrylonitrile and butadiene. However, the chemical and physical composition of the gloves varies depending on the design of the polymers. Gloves with a high composition of nitrile are less flexible but efficiently resistant to oil and vice versa. There are several types of nitrile gloves based on their composition. Accelerator-free disposable nitrile gloves have all the standard nitrile handwear properties, excluding the sulfur-based chemical, which is closely linked to Type I latex allergies. Anti-static nitrile gloves are perfect while handling electrical applications, not forgetting their superiority concerning comfort and grip. With an added layer of cotton in the lining, the flock-lined nitrile glove provides a more convenient protection level against puncture and abrasion. Other common varieties of nitrile handwear include powder-free, superior fit, and powdered nitrile disposable gloves. The primary function of the copolymer is to provide resistance to oil, fuel, and certain chemicals. This is one of the primary reasons nitrile gloves are common in aeronautical, automotive, and other industries that deal with machinery.

Nitrile Gloves and Safety?

As mentioned earlier, nitrile gloves are the safest hand protection wear despite their less flexibility. First, they are very durable, which means that the chances of exposure are rare. Considering the advanced manufacturing procedures and techniques, there is a vast safety difference between nitrile and latex gloves. The process of creating nitrile gloves is similar to that of vinyl gloves. However, manufacturing nitrile has an added advantage as it involves copolymerization, adding to the gloves’ superiority regarding resistance to heat, corrosive chemicals, oil, and other aggressive contaminants. Typically, the production of nitrile gloves involves combining the molecules of polyvinylchloride and NBR. Exposing the gloves to chlorine makes the nitrile gloves harder, therefore able to endure punctures and severe abrasions. Keep in mind that the gloves have an efficient cotton lining that aids in absorbing sweat. This ensures that the user is comfortable enough to get a good grip on equipment and machinery. Some users may be allergic to gloves that compose of chemical accelerators. For that reason, nitrile gloves come variety, which includes accelerator-free material. To answer your question, yes, nitrile gloves are safe for use.

Are Nitrile Gloves Washable?

It is possible to wash nitrile gloves. This, however, depends on the type of nitrile glove you are using. They are two types of nitrile gloves: reusable and disposable gloves. Disposable gloves are thinner than reusable ones. The gloves are common in medical facilities and other settings that require disposal after a single-use. On the other hand, reusable gloves have thick material and can withstand chemical corrosion involving up to 20 repetitive exposures. Therefore, it is safe and possible to wash the reusable nitrile gloves while handling different chemicals in two hours.
Nevertheless, it would help if you take caution while washing the gloves as careless handling can lead to contamination. While it is unnecessary to wash your nitrile PPE, some circumstances may require you to do so. Assuming that you have no immediate replacement for your nitrile gloves, you will have no choice but to use water and detergents. Fortunately, handwear can withstand several chemicals, thus eliminating the chances of degradation. Moreover, nitrile gloves are easy to wash.
Nonetheless, you have to observe safety as there are chemicals and other contaminants all over the outside of the gloves. Before removing the gloves:

  • Rinse them thoroughly using a hose or running tap water.
  • Note that you should wash your hands after removing the gloves.
  • Turn the gloves inside out and put them in warm water with mild detergent.
  • Repeat the process for both sides of the gloves and then leave the handwear out to dry.

In the case of emergencies where water is not available, you can use alcohol-based sanitizers. Alcohol-based sanitizers are safe as they do not cause degradation.

The Use of Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile gloves have properties that make them beneficial in a wide variety of settings. Some of the wear is efficient for the medical field, while others are more beneficial for industrial use. For instance, their thickness is essential for withstanding puncture and abrasion when handling heavy and sharp apparatus. According to reliable sources, nitrile gloves are five times more resistant than latex when it comes to strength and durability. With low sweat technology, the gloves are the most convenient for folks working in the mechanics’ industry: they allow for a better grip of small tools and heavy machines. Besides that, super gloves are necessary for the aeronautical and automotive industries. In relation to the Occupational Safety and Health rules, nitrile material can withstand gasoline, diesel, mineral oils, and acids. In conjunction with that, the copolymer material withstands temperatures from -40 to 226 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, the incredible tensile strength of nitrile gloves makes them brilliant for operating in clinical settings. Health workers use handwear to prevent contamination from bodily fluids, clinical chemicals, and pathogens. Typically, nitrile gloves feel and fit like latex, allowing for high touch sensitivity and easy movement.

Nitrile Gloves and Protection against Virus

Gloves that protect against viruses should meet specific regulatory standards. For instance, the ASTM F 1671 defines gloves’ ability to shield one from microorganism infection concerning the probability of penetration. Likewise, part 5 of the EN ISO 374 provides guidelines concerning the standard requirements for protection against microorganisms, including viruses. The nitrile gloves meet the EN374 certification, which means they have the required standard of degradation level, permeation rate, and penetration time. The largest viruses (pandoraviruses) are approximately 0.4 micrometers. A mature HIV measures about 0.1 micrometers. Nitrile gloves have an average thickness of 6 millimeters for added protection against puncture. It would take a long time for a virus to penetrate through a 6 mm glove. Moreover, proper disposal of the gloves coupled with disinfection reduces the likeliness of infection.

Nitrile Vs. Latex Gloves

The primary difference between latex and nitrile gloves lies in their composition. Latex gloves compose natural rubber, while nitrile gloves consist of synthetic material. Latex is a cheaper option for those that require adequate protection against chemicals and pathogens. Besides that, they are thin therefore very comfortable when it comes to touch sensitivity and movement. However, nitrile gloves are better than latex material as they compose copolymer material that offers incredible tensile strength. The nitrile material is less flexible than latex gloves, but that does not necessarily mean they are uncomfortable. Studies show that nitrile feels as elastic as latex. However, nitrile allows for efficient grip as it contains a lining that is sweat absorbent. This improves the handling of tools and machinery. Another difference between the two categories is that latex has a higher percentage of causing allergic reactions than nitrile gloves.

Are Nitrile Gloves Biodegradable?

The production process applied in manufacturing nitrile gloves fits the green technology criteria. Typically, the manufacture of NBR involves the use of Eco Best Technology. The EBT uses an organic additive that attracts microbial activity. Since several microorganisms have a high affinity for this particular additive, the degradation process begins after the gloves’ disposal. Complete degradation, however, takes a long time because nitrile gloves have constituents that increase their toughness. Latex gloves have a less degradation period compared to nitrile material as they are less thick. Roughly, it takes 24 months for microbes to consume a nitrile glove completely. With this information, it is safe to mention that the manufacture of nitrile gloves is a crucial mitigation strategy following the green environment’s conservation.

Nitrile Gloves and Allergic Reactions

Similar to latex, nitrile gloves can cause allergic reactions. However, the aftereffects are not consequences of latex-associated proteins. Some nitrile gloves contain chemicals known as accelerators. Accelerators are chemicals that manufacturers use to increase the durability and elasticity of gloves. Most people who react to nitrile material have type (IV) hypersensitivity—the symptoms of exposure to nitrile allergens include itching, burning sensation, and hives. According to evidence-based medical statistics, the cases of severe allergic reactions following contact with nitrile material are low. The good news is that the gloves come in a variety of total compositions. For people who are allergic to nitrile-associated antigens and chemical accelerators, powder-free and accelerator-free gloves are recommendable.

Are Nitrile Gloves Reusable?

A category of nitrile gloves is reusable. On the other hand, it is not safe to reuse disposable nitrile gloves. A reusable nitrile glove should meet particular health and hazard standards. Reusing nitrile gloves is unnecessary, but should you have no other option, you must follow the CDC guidelines for safe removal and disinfection of nitrile gloves. The first rule of disinfecting your gloves for reuse is; do not to touch your bare skin. You will have to grasp outside of the gloves just above the wrist, one at a time. Pull the gloves from your hand while slowly moving the hands towards your body. Deep the gloves in water containing detergent and allow them to soak for a while. Meanwhile, thoroughly wash your hands to rid of any contaminants. With thick gloves on, gently rub the nitrile gloves over each, rinse and allow them to air-dry.

Chemical Resistance

The design of nitrile gloves enables them to resist various chemicals. This heavy-duty material composes of polymers which enhance the strength of the material. In general, nitrile has a widespread, efficient resistance to acids, oils, and fuels. A chemical substance will roughly take fifteen minutes to penetrate a 5-millimeter nitrile glove in a splash event. Nitrile material is resistant to formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, and sulfuric acid, to mention a few. Due to their superior quality, nitrile gloves are suitable for use in numerous industries. At present, many organizations are switching from latex to nitrile material due to their excellent shielding from corrosive substances and low probability of causing allergic reactions.

Are Nitrile Gloves Recyclable?

Many prefer nitrile to latex gloves because nitrile material is recyclable. Several organizations apply the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” philosophy to conserve the green environment by reducing the number of nitrile gloves in landfills. Tom Szaky, the founder of TerraCycle, states that humans pollute the environment by dumping more than 2 billion tonnes of waste. As reported by him, recycling nitrile gloves is an innovative approach to reduce plastic pollution. Kimberly-Clark is an organization that partners with TerraCycle to collect used nitrile gloves, freeze and pulverize the material then transform it into park benches and other beneficial objects.

The Myth: Nitrile Gloves are Toxic

A common misconception about nitrile gloves is that they are poisonous. This is misinformation because nitrile gloves are the most convenient option for folks watching out for allergic reactions. So far, there is no recorded case of an individual who suffered a severe health difficulty due to contact with nitrile material. Though some people may be allergic to chemical accelerators, the chances of health hitches are very minimal.

Where to Buy Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile gloves are available in multiple drug stores near you. You can also shop the items via online pharmacies, which is more convenient as most online stores offer free shipping. Nevertheless, you have to be cautious while purchasing to avoid buying non-certified commercial-purpose gloves.

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