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What Are Nitrile Gloves Used For?: 17 Different Applications

what are nitrile gloves used for
Written by Willie F Brodson

Those days are gone when latex was considered the only material for disposable gloves. Nitrile – a synthetic form of rubber – is one of the wonders of modern science that’s highly resistant to acids and oil.

This is what makes nitrile gloves so much popular in medical and scientific settings. But these disposable gloves also have a variety of other applications that we will talk about here.

Uses of Nitrile Gloves

1. Medical sectors

Different types of medical practitioners need disposable gloves in different situations such as when they evaluate patients, dispose of medical waste, or handle biological materials.

Nitrile gloves are now commonly used in such cases because they’re effective at resisting punctures and harsh cleaning products. The FDA also recommends nitrile gloves for all healthcare professionals aside from PVC and polyurethane.

2. Chemical sectors

Thin and disposable nitrile gloves are now widely used in the manufacturing of chemicals as they have greater chemical and abrasion resistance than natural rubber gloves.

Moreover, nitrile is a great general-duty gloves material that can protect the hands of the workers from corrosive acids and dry chemicals.

3. Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical companies need gloves as the workers have to handle different types of chemicals in the production process.

Thick gloves can protect the workers from exposure to UV radiation. Moreover, they can get fungal infections in their nails and skin if exposed to dust with antibiotics. As a result, nitrile gloves are a must-have for this field.

4. Dentistry

Like other healthcare facilities, nitrile gloves are essential for dentists and other oral healthcare providers as they make contact with germs and bacteria on a daily basis. The same is true for the patients and staff as well.

5. Laboratory

Gloves are widely used in all kinds of laboratories, especially chemistry labs as different types of corrosive substances are used in the practice and research.

However, they provide limited protection against the absorption of chemicals, lacerations, thermal and chemical burns, and cryogenic liquids.

6. Aerospace

Gloves are a must-have in different aerospace facilities, especially for those involved in paint shops, body shops, and molding.

These workers use chemicals on a daily basis eg. to assemble the structural parts with chemicals and glue, while body shop workers need to handle dangerous chemicals regularly.

7. Food processing

Food-grade nitrile gloves are the perfect choice for people who have to handle different types of food as these gloves are…

  • Easily changeable
  • Resistant to odors and stains
  • Have great elasticity
  • Fit perfectly
  • Protect against abrasion, puncture, and tear
  • Resistant to oils, water, and solvents

Most of these properties actually help prevent food contamination that can cause foodborne illnesses.

Additionally, in a food-based business, the color coding system of nitrile gloves helps prevent cross-contamination.

8. Engineering

Nitrile gloves are ideal for engineering applications as well, such as for general assembly or handling large pieces of machinery.

9. Electronics:

In the electronics industry, disposable gloves should be sensitive, antistatic, and clean.

All of these properties are present in nitrile gloves, so they are used in different types of production processes.

Some of them are…

  • Integrated circuit production
  • Silicon material production
  • Flat panel display production
  • Card manufacturing
  • Optical fiber production
  • Surface mounting
  • Machine assembly production
  • Automatic control system production

10. Printing

In the printing industry, people have to wear gloves to protect their hands from harsh chemicals, oils, inks, emulsions, oxidizers, greases, and solvents. Nitrile gloves are one of the best choices to serve this purpose.

11. Barbershop

Gloves are a must-have for barbers/hairdressers for two reasons.

One is to protect their hands from harmful chemicals like ammonia, sodium hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide, formaldehyde, and phenylenediamine

They can cause chemical burns and skin irritations if directly applied to the skin or not washed off immediately.

The other is to avoid cuts and bruises from sharp objects like scissors and razors when trimming, shaping, and styling hair.

12. Tattoo shop

The main purpose of using gloves in tattoo shops is to protect the artist’s hands and save the clients from infections.

When mixing colors or using cleaning equipment, it’s important to wear gloves to avoid ink contamination.

Hygiene and sanitation are two commitments that tattooing requires as the process causes open wounds on the skin. Bacteria, viruses, and unwanted particles can enter the bloodstream through these wounds, which may result in infections or instant inflammation.

13. Kitchen

You may think you need to wear gloves to safeguard yourself only or your family. This may be applicable for your home only but these gloves actually help prevent food contamination from one person to another.

14. Janitorial work

Custodians or janitors need gloves to save themselves from direct contact with unsanitary objects like garbage, food waste, or dirty restrooms.

These hand wear also safeguard them from hazardous chemicals like:

  • Acid
  • Oil
  • Detergents
  • Solvents
  • Abrasives

Although the chemicals used in the cleaning process are diluted, prolonged exposure to them can still cause skin irritation and cracked or dry hands.

Nitrile gloves are even better than their vinyl or latex counterparts.

15. Childcare

In professional childcare facilities, daycares, and preschools, nitrile gloves are regularly used to protect children from germs.

However, the care providers also use them when changing diapers, applying first aid, cleaning up vomit, and more.

These gloves are also necessary during the time of preparation of meals or while feeding children.

16. Security Work

Security workers never know what situation they are going to face as they have to handle and check on many people on a daily basis.

This makes them vulnerable to many types of microorganisms from different persons or objects. Nitrile gloves are often preferred by security forces for this reason.

17. Mechanic shop

In mechanic shops, all kinds of professionals like auto mechanics, auto detailers, auto painters, or lube technicians need to protect their hands from things like –

  • Engine oils
  • Transmission fluids
  • Grease
  • Brake fluids
  • Battery acids
  • Antifreeze acids

From swapping out a rear axle to changing oil, nitrile gloves are not only delicate enough for detailing jobs but also give a better grip on dirty tools and parts.

What Do Nitrile Gloves Protect Against?

  • Micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses)
  • Oils, fuels, and petroleum products
  • Weak caustics
  • Acetic acid 10%
  • Nitric acid 10%
  • Nitric acid 36%
  • Benzalkonium chloride
  • Sulphuric acid 47%
  • Chlorhexidine digluconate 4%
  • Formaldehyde 15%
  • Ethanol 20%
  • Formaldehyde 37%
  • Hydrogen peroxide 30%
  • Glutaraldehyde 50%
  • Paraformaldehyde 50%
  • Phenol 1%
  • Sodium hydroxide 40%
  • Povidone iodine 10%

What Shouldn’t Nitrile Gloves Be Used Against?

  • Aromatic solvents
  • Acetates
  • Ketones
  • Highly corrosive chemicals
  • Concentrated acids

Benefits of Nitrile Gloves

  • Highly resistant to chemicals, oils, and petroleum-based products
  • Resistant to punctures and tears
  • Flexible
  • High dexterity
  • Touch-sensitivity
  • Long shelf life
  • Highly durable
  • Pathogen protection
  • Comfortable fit
  • Lightweight
  • Lower allergy rate (Hypoallergenic)
  • Different cuff lengths
  • Multiple colors for color-coding tasks
  • BPA-free
  • Latex-free
  • Phthalate-free
  • Vinyl-free
  • MBT-free
  • Protein-free
  • Food safe
  • Recyclable
  • Biodegradable (although takes a long time)
  • Easy to change
  • Available in powdered and powder-free forms
  • Can be worn for longer periods of time since they’re breathable

FAQs

1. What are nitrile gloves made of?

Ans: Nitrile, a synthetic copolymer (synthetic rubber), chemically known as butyronitrile, is formed by combining butadiene and acrylonitrile. This chemical compound is used to manufacture nitrile gloves.

2. Can I reuse disposable nitrile gloves?

Ans: As per the FDA, medical-grade disposable nitrile gloves are not reusable because they develop pinholes with use over time.

Discard your gloves after every use and change them immediately if you notice a tear or  a rip. Never wash or sanitize your medical-grade gloves.

3. How do industrial-grade and medical-grade nitrile gloves differ?

Ans: Medical-grade gloves – also known as examination gloves – require the approval of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) with an AQL (Acceptable Quality Level) of 1.5 or less.

They also have to pass pathogen (blood-borne) penetration resistance tests and can’t include additives not suitable for medical exams or surgeries (e.g., glove powder)

On the other hand, industrial-grade gloves are more tear-and puncture-resistant with an AQL of 4.0 or less.

4. Are nitrile gloves impermeable?

Ans: No, they are not. Although they have a higher chemical resistance rate compared to latex gloves, they are not impermeable forever.

Strong-grade chemicals can pass through the gloves eventually. But how long it will take depends on the type and strength of the chemical.

5. How do nitrile gloves and latex gloves differ?

Ans: There are three main differences between latex gloves and nitrile gloves.

  • Nitrile is synthetic rubber while latex is natural rubber
  • Nitrile is more puncture resistant (thicker)
  • Nitrile is protein-free (hypoallergenic)

About the author

Willie F Brodson

Certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and a master of Science in Occupational Safety Management from Indiana State University, Willie F Brodson is an occupational safety expert who believes in the age-old saying – “It is better to be safe than sorry.”

Willie’s areas of expertise include legal guidelines for health and safety, coding and construction safety, fire prevention and theft, and environmental technology. Over a span of four decades, he has provided safety training and consultation and developed safety manuals for a number of state-owned and private organizations.

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