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Selection of chemical resistant gloves

Gloves reduce the exposure of our hands to hazardous materials. No single material will protect against all chemicals, so glove selection must be made for each type of chemical. Latex gloves may provide adequate protection against dilute aqueous solutions, they however provide no protection against exposure to solvents The table below is intended as a guideline for selection of the appropriate protective glove. Manufacturers can supply specific information on the choice of glove for specific applications.

Glove selection should be based on the following criteria:

Degradation

Degradation due to contact with chemicals causes the glove material to soften, swell, shrink, stretch, dissolve, or to become hard and brittle.

Permeation

Permeation is the result of molecular diffusion of a chemical through a glove material. There may be permeation without obvious signs of degradation. Permeation is quantified by breakthrough time and permeation rate.

Breakthrough time The time it takes for a particular chemical to pass through a protective material.
Permeating rate The speed at which the chemical moves through the protective material once it has broken through.

Exposure

Glove performance decreases significantly as chemical exposure increases by:

  • Chemical concentration
  • Direct immersion
  • Previous exposures

Temperature

Permeation test data are obtained at room temperature (20 to 25 degrees Celsius). If chemicals are being used at temperatures higher than this glove performance may be significantly affected.

Glove thickness

Any chemical will permeate a protective material given enough time. The breakthrough time for a thicker material will be longer than that of a thinner material, providing superior chemical resistance. When choosing a chemical resistant glove manual dexterity must also be taken into account.

Manufacturer

Differences in production of materials results in variations of permeation and degradation between manufacturers. Test data for a particular manufacturer should be consulted prior to selecting a chemical resistant glove.

Chemical purity

Permeation testing is conducted using pure chemicals. Mixtures of chemicals will significantly alter the permeation rate and degradation of a material.

Physical resistance

Chemical penetration through a tear or hole in a glove will cause a much greater chemical exposure potential than caused by molecular permeation.

Selection guide

This guide is for general reference only, for specific recommendations contact the glove manufacturer, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) or the Safety Office.

Gloves Material Chemical resistance
Recommended Not recommended
Latex Natural rubber Weak acids, weak bases, alcohols, aqueous solutions Oils, greases and organics
Butyl Synthetic rubber Aldehydes, ketones, esters, glycol ethers, polar organic solvents Alipathic, aromatic and chlorinated  solvents
Neoprene Synthetic rubber Oxidizing acids, bases, alcohols, oils, fats, aniline, phenol, glycol ethers Chlorinated solvents
Nitrile Synthetic rubber Oils, greases, acids, causatics, alipathic solvents Aromatic solvents, many ketones, esters and many chlorinated solvents
PVA Poly-vinyl alcochol A wide range of alipathics, aromatic and chlorinated solvents, ketones (except acetone), esters, and ethers Acids, alcohols, bases and water
PVC Poly-vinyl chloride Strong acids, and bases, salts, other aqueous solutions, alcohols, glycol ethers Alipathic, aromatic and chlorinated solvents, aldehydes, ketones, nitrocompounds
Vitron Fluoroelastimeter Aromatic, alipathic and chlorinated solvents, and alcohols Some ketones, esters and amines
Silver shield Laminate Wide range of solvents, acids and bases  

Some other information on chemical resistance of gloves and clothing: