Myth 4: All gloves have the same barrier properties

Virtually every task in the laboratory entails the use of gloves and it is fair to say that they are our constant companion for the most of the working day. Not surprisingly for something which shares such as an intimate relationship with our lives, gloves may be a frequent topic of discussion. With this in mind and taking into account the huge diversity of gloves used in the laboratory, is it any surprise that stories relating to gloves have reached mythical proportions.


Gloves are often worn as a barrier for personal protection or for process protection and often for both. Prior to use, gloves may exhibit equivalent barrier properties as defined by AQL. The latter refers to the statistical probability of holes in the gloves. In-use, glove material, thickness, degradation etc will influence the potential to develop holes. A simulated use study by Kerr1)Kerr LN, Boivin W.S., Chaput M.P. et al. (2002) “The effect of simulated clinical use on vinyl and latex exam glove durability” Journal of Testnig and Evaulation 30(5): 415-420revealed failure rates of respectively 35% and 9% in vinyl and latex. To assess the barrier performance of your gloves, you can perform your own test by wearing a pair for a defined time then filling them up with water to see whether they leak.

Reality: different glove materials offer different levels of barrier resistance

References   [ + ]

1.Kerr LN, Boivin W.S., Chaput M.P. et al. (2002) “The effect of simulated clinical use on vinyl and latex exam glove durability” Journal of Testnig and Evaulation 30(5): 415-420

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