Durable, chemical-resistant and hypoallergenic
Nitrile gloves are a vital piece of personal protective equipment, in particular for healthcare workers.
Made from synthetic materials, nitrile gloves are three times more resistant to punctures than latex, and they offer protection against a wider range of chemicals and oils than either latex or vinyl.
But there's a catch; nitrile gloves will cost you a few pennies more than some other kinds of work gloves - but they're well worth the price.
And nitrile gloves are an excellent alternative to latex gloves for people who suffer from latex allergy or need added protection from chemicals on the job.
Disposable nitrile gloves were first introduced in the 1990s, which was perfect timing as it turned out since a new OSHA standard for blood-borne pathogens began requiring workers to wear protective gloves when exposed to blood or body fluids.
Can nitrile gloves do the job?
A laboratory-based study conducted by the University of Maryland's School of Nursing and Medicine found that nitrile gloves were comparable to latex gloves in terms of their barrier protection capabilities.
Nitrile gloves outperform latex gloves when handling the following substances:
- aliphatic chemicals
- toluene (although performance is only "fair" here with nitrile gloves).
However, nitrile gloves do not really measure up when you're dealing with benzene, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene or any ketones.
For a complete analysis of nitrile gloves, consult the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory glove selection and chemical use table.
Nitrile gloves are available in different thicknesses such as four, eight and 15 millimeters. The thinnest ones fit like a second skin, allowing for greater tactile sensation.
Other features available in nitrile gloves include
- flocked lining for comfort
- textured or smooth grip
- multiple sizes and lengths
- disposable or reusable
- lightly powdered or powder-free.
Nitrile gloves are very easy to slide on and off because of their low resistance to friction. When it's time to take them off, simply grab the sleeve of your nitrile glove and pull it towards your fingertips, inside-out, so that the contaminated glove exterior stays inside.