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Frequently Asked Questions about PPE

Proper hand protection is especially important in a chemical processing facility to prevent injuries and related costs and to boost productivity. Here are questions often asked by managers and others in chemical processing facilities, with responses provided to their inquiries.

What are some safety guidelines for using disposable nitrile gloves in a laboratory setting?

Nitrile gloves are suited for:
  • Use with aliphatic hydrocarbons
  • Animal fats
  • Lubricating oils and similar products

They will also protect against water solutions of highly polar materials such as hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acids, sodium hydroxide and most salts.

These gloves are not appropriate for use with:
  • Highly concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids, although they will resist these acids if the acids are diluted to no more than 50 percent concentration
  • Medium-polar solvents such as trichloroethylene, acetone, ethyl acetate and other solvents with the same polarity.

Please keep in mind that no disposable glove will provide perfect protection. Workers should still work carefully and avoid contact with any chemicals. You should also clean up any spills or broken glass immediately. If hazardous chemicals are spilled on the gloves, the gloves should be discarded and replaced as soon as possible.

What causes latex allergies and what can be done to prevent an allergic reaction to latex?

A Type I latex allergy is caused by allergenic proteins that are put in natural rubber latex by the rubber trees. While manufacturers have been successful in reducing the residual amounts of these allergenic proteins in gloves, they have not been able to remove them entirely.

Workers who know or suspect they have a latex allergy should consider switching to a synthetic alternative, such as nitrile, neoprene or vinyl (PVC) gloves, which are available from various manufacturers.

Stay tuned for part 2 of 3 of this series.

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