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Hand Protection


Protective gloves should be worn when handling hazardous materials, chemicals of unknown toxicity, corrosive materials, rough or sharp-edged objects, and very hot or very cold materials. When handling chemicals in a laboratory, disposable latex, vinyl or nitrile examination gloves are usually appropriate for most circumstances. These gloves will offer protection from incidental splashes or contact.

When working with chemicals with high acute toxicity, working with corrosives in high concentrations, handling chemicals for extended periods of time or immersing all or part of a hand into a chemical, the appropriate glove material should be selected, based on chemical compatibility.

NOTE: Remember to never reuse disposable glove. It is important that once a glove is used, it is disposed of correctly and never disinfected or decontaminated for additional use.

When selecting the appropriate glove, considered the following:

  • Degradation Rating
  • Breakthrough Time
  • Permeation Rate
  • MSDS Recommendation

Degradation is the change in one or more of the physical properties of a glove caused by contact with a chemical. Degradation typically appears as hardening, stiffening, swelling, shrinking or cracking of the glove. Degradation ratings indicate how well a glove will hold up when exposed to a chemical. When looking at a Chemical Compatibility Chart, degradation is usually reported as (excellent)(good)(fair)(poor)NR (not recommended) or NT (not tested).

Breakthrough Time is the elapsed time between the initial contact of the test chemical on the surface of the glove and the analytical detection of the chemical on the inside of the glove.

Permeation Rate is the rate at which the test chemical passes through the glove material once breakthrough has occurred and equilibrium is reached. Permeation involves absorption of the chemical on the surface of the glove, diffusion through the glove, and desorption of the chemical on the inside of the glove. Resistance to permeation rate is usually reported as (excellent)(good)(fair)(poor)NR (not recommended). If chemical breakthrough does not occur, then permeation rate is not measured and is reported or ND (none detected).

For mixtures, it is recommended that the glove material be selected based on the shortest breakthrough time.

Glove Selection Chart is a guide to help select the correct type of glove for one's laboratory work.

Proper Glove Removal


Gloves should be removed avoiding skin contact with the exterior of the glove and possible contamination. Disposable gloves should be removed as follows:

  • Grasp the exterior of one glove with your other gloved hand.
  • Carefully pull the glove off your hand, turning it inside-out. The contamination is now on the inside.
  • Ball the glove up and hold in your other gloved hand.
  • Slide your ungloved finger into the opening of the other glove. Avoid touching the exterior.
  • Carefully pull the glove off your hand, turning it inside out again. All contamination is contained.
  • Discard appropriately.