Disposable nitrile gloves are widely used both by public and in professional settings such as hospitals, laboratories, food sector and other industries where hand hygiene and protection are important. Nitrile gloves are waterproof, oil and grease-proof and provide protection against an array of different (but certainly not all) chemicals and substances. The importance of wearing hand protection becomes especially relevant in times of disease outbreaks, especially when the pathogens can be transmitted through surfaces. There is a wide variety nitrile gloves in different formats available on the market from numerous manufacturers. It is crucial to buy nitrile gloves that not only offer the maximum protection but are also fit for the intended use. In this article we will go over five essential elements to look for while purchasing nitrile gloves.
Nitrile gloves are manufactured from nitrile butadiene rubber, a synthetic alternative to once commonly used latex. It is approximately 3 times more resistant to punctures than latex and can be safely worn by people with latex allergies. If you are purchasing disposable nitrile gloves for your organization or have a large team, chances are there will be staff members who are allergic to natural latex so, it’s always important to make sure that they don’t contain any latex. Look for the “Latex-FREE” or “(latex) protein free” sign on the boxes an also follow up with the manufacturer to make sure.
Single use nitrile gloves can be powdered or powder-free. Powdered gloves contain a type of cornstarch on the inner side to make the donning easier and reduce sweating. However, powder-free nitrile gloves are much more durable, provide a better resistance to water, oil and other substances and are more skin friendly. The ease of wearing in powder-free nitrile gloves is achieved through the process of chlorination that creates a perfect smooth surface that doesn’t stick to skin. As with the latex, make sure to read the labels and product description to purchase the right gloves.
The thickness of nitrile gloves varies depending on the type of glove and its intended use and hence offer different levels of protection. The thickness is often expressed in “mil” units which is equivalent to one-thousandth (1/1000) of an inch but, can also be given in millimeters. Separate thickness values are provided for fingers and palm, with palm region being slightly thinner. Thicker gloves provide more protection against chemicals but this is achieved at the expense of reduced tactile sensitivity. Thicker nitrile gloves with longer breakthrough times are preferred in industrial settings where prolonged exposure to various hazardous chemicals is expected. Breakthrough time is basically the amount of time it takes for a substance to pass through the glove when exposed to a chemical. It is of course possible to wear two thin gloves on top of each other to increase the protection and prolong the breakthrough time but, this practice is generally not recommended as it leads to overheating and fatigue. On the other hand, thin disposable nitrile gloves are ideal for situations where tactile sensitivity is required, such as exam gloves used in hospitals. These gloves serve as physical barriers against biological and chemical agents and prevent the spread and contamination of pathogens.
Comfort & Fit
Since doctors, technicians and other medical professionals often wear disposable nitrile gloves for prolonged periods of time, the issue of comfort and proper fitting becomes especially important. These, in turn, depend on numerous factors including size, design, building material and other design elements. The most obvious and fundamental factor is of course the size of the glove, in other words wearing the right size that fits. Disposable nitrile gloves come in several sizes including Extra-Small, Small, Medium, Large and Extra-Large. If you have a big staff and purchasing in bulk, it is worth considering to cover all sizes to make sure everyone can wear a glove that fits their size. The design of the glove itself is also a key factor; look for custom designed nitrile gloves that contours the palm and fingers, providing comfort and reducing hand fatigue. Powder-free and latex-free nitrile gloves also eliminate skin discomfort and irritation that may arise from allergic reactions.
The strength or durability is perhaps the most essential property of exam gloves. A highly durable nitrile glove reduces the users’ risk of accidental exposure to chemicals and pathogens and saves money by preventing overconsumption. The strength of a glove is measured in terms of its resistance to several separate events including tearing, cutting, puncturing and abrasion. Nitrile gloves perform significantly better compared to natural latex and vinyl gloves across all strength categories, with the exception of tearing. The durability of nitrile gloves is expressed in terms of tensile strength and elongation. Tensile strength refers to the amount of force per square area required to stretch the nitrile glove to its breaking point (unit: MPa). Elongation is a measure of how far a nitrile glove will stretch before breaking (unit: %). For both tensile strength and elongation, the higher the value, the more durable the gloves are. These numbers are provided on the product’s box for both unaged and aged conditions. Finally, nitrile gloves with beaded cuffs offer additional strength and resistance to tearing.
As with any commodity, the price tag of disposable nitrile gloves is part of the equation when purchasing the product. The price of disposable gloves depends primarily on the raw material used as well as the cost of the manufacturing process itself. Nitrile gloves are in general more expensive than both latex and vinyl alternatives. The primary ingredient of disposable nitrile gloves are acrylonitrile and butadiene, two organic compounds that are on high demand. Moreover, powder-free nitrile gloves are more expensive compared to powdered alternatives, due to previously mentioned chlorination process that goes into their manufacturing. However, at the end of the day, the high durability and superior puncture resistance offered by nitrile gloves balance off the slightly higher price tag, making them a more economically viable option.