With more than 200 million registered chemicals, finding the right chemical protective glove is not an easy task.

Selection of chemical protective gloves is often a challenging exercise, especially with many different chemicals and chemical mixes being used in a typical production process or production facility. In April 2021, CAS Registry® announced it had registered its 250 millionth unique chemical substance and thousands more added daily1. While every unique set of chemicals requires specific chemical protection, selecting the one best fitted chemical protective glove for your application deserves particular attention.

EU-OSHA has reported that at least 15% of EU workers handle dangerous substances as part of their job. In 2014, there were close to 3.2 million nonfatal accidents in the EU-28 zone2 while in 2017, Eurostat reported over 110,000 cases of occupational skin problems. Without the right chemical protection, workers are at risk, and this can result in serious drawbacks for productivity and business performance.

The Compromise

Chemical resistant gloves

Exposure to a single substance is not the only influencing factor in choosing the most effective safeguard against chemical injury. Chemical resistant gloves come in a wide variety of barrier materials, thicknesses and designs. Common materials used as coatings for chemical protective gloves are nitrile rubber, polychloroprene (neoprene), butyl, Viton, natural rubber or vinyl (PVC). Less known high resistance materials are LLDPE (barrier) or PVA (polyvinylalcohol).

Each of those barrier materials protects against a spectrum of chemical groups and has also some “weak points”: chemical groups where the compatibility is weak or very weak. The

perfect barrier material which protects against all chemicals and chemical mixes is virtually non-existent. As such, a compromise will have to be made each time, coming to the best solution with your unique set of chemicals used in your application.

Your application might pose other specific comfort or mechanical needs beyond the chemical protection. For example, workers need a tactile glove, a glove with enhanced

grip features or protection from heat; based on application or task.

Permeation Breakthrough Times

The permeation breakthrough time is a theoretical indication of how long it would take a certain chemical to permeate through the glove in standardized (laboratory) conditions. Since those conditions do not reflect the real workplace circumstances, the results only serve as a good guideline, however they can’t be interpreted as total usage times. Permeation breakthrough times can however be very well used to make a distinction between different glove materials.

The Selection Process

Ansell chemical gloves

The selection process to define the best suited glove for your chemical risks, can best be compared to a funnel. Going through those subsequent steps, which each step resulting in more focus, will make sure all application specific parameters are considered, and will also prevent yourself from getting lost in an abundance of information.

Ansell has a large database of permeation breakthrough times (test data or estimations) for both pure chemicals as well as mixes. When an assessment is generated for gloves in the different Ansell formulations, a good visual overview of better performing materials can be obtained. Whilst in most cases, a compromise needs to be made to come to the eventual glove selection, AnsellGUARDIAN® Chemical will help you to come to that compromise.

Ansell chemical gloves

While there is no ‘perfect’ barrier material for every possible combination of conditions, you can utilise available resources to ensure the best possible choice to deliver maximum protection.

1. Consider the constraints

Permeation breakthrough time is a theoretical indication of how long it takes a chemical to permeate a glove. It should be used to make a distinction between glove materials and thickness rather than interpreted as total usage time.

2. Take stock

Make an inventory of all chemicals in your application. Select the most commonly used substances and add those that pose specific health hazards.

3. Access tailored analysis

Utilise AnsellGUARDIAN® Chemical, a personalised assessment to match glove materials with chemicals. It provides a visualisation of permeation times, use these with your full application risk assessment.

4. Add extra needs

Look at the other aspects of the application aside of chemicals (abrasion, tear, heat resistance, antistaticity, etc.) and select from there the best suited solution.

5. Test and assess

Undertake practice tests to assess usage time in your application. Follow-up with correct usage and care of the product to ensure continued suitability.

1 Source: CAS.org

2 Source: Eurostat Statistics

Contact Us to ask for a personalised AnsellGUARDIAN® Chemical Assessment here.