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Are nitrile gloves safe?

By Jessica Barrett | Last updated: November 13, 2019
Presented by Cordova Safety Products

In general, nitrile gloves are safe. However, whether they are the right choice for a given application depends entirely on the circumstances.

Nitrile gloves are made of synthetic rubber and a common choice to avoid latex allergies. They’re resistant to punctures, mold to the hand for a snug fit, and offer a high degree of sensitivity, which makes them the ideal choice for medical and food applications. In addition, nitrile gloves are resistant to many types of chemicals and are excellent in situations that may involve infectious materials or substances. Since they most often come in blue or black, it’s easy to identify any defects or punctures that could put the wearer at risk.

Nitrile gloves come in varying levels of durability and thickness. There are two grades:

  • Medical grade are often used in hospitals, laboratories, cleanrooms, and dental offices, or other areas where there is a risk of contact with blood or environmental contaminants
  • Industrial grade are best employed for handling chemicals and solvents, such as in automotive, janitorial, or food services applications

(Read about 8 Key Cleanroom Protective Clothing Options to Consider.)

Thicknesses can range up to 15 mm, with general purpose nitrile gloves being 4 mm. Thicker gloves offer greater protection from harsh environments, though they may compromise on touch sensitivity.

(Learn How to Choose the Right Type of Disposable Glove For Your Job.)

While latex is the most common allergy when it comes to gloves, components used in nitrile gloves can also cause allergic reactions. If any skin irritation occurs, it’s best to discontinue use of nitrile gloves and find a suitable alternative.

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Written by Jessica Barrett

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Jessica is a freelance writer and editor from Toronto, Canada. She specializes in creating content for nonprofits and has written for organizations working in human rights, conservation, education, and health care. She loves traveling and food, speaks Spanish, and has two dogs, one of whom she rescued while living in Mexico.

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