Results of a recent study indicate the possibility of nanoparticle penetration through protective gloves in workplace settings. The findings, released last month by IRSST, a nonprofit scientific research organization in Quebec, Canada, provide “sufficient reason to recommend caution with regard to the choice and conditions of use of protective gloves when possible exposure to [nanoparticles] exists.” The study began last summer with the goal of developing a method for characterizing the protective efficiency of gloves against nanoparticles under conditions simulating those in workplaces.
Researchers used an experimental device, connected to a data control and acquisition system, to expose glove samples to nanoparticles. The device simultaneously subjected the glove samples to static or dynamic mechanical stresses and conditions simulating the microclimate in the gloves. The researchers also developed a sampling protocol and selected a series of nanoparticle detection techniques.
Using this method, four models of protective gloves of different thicknesses made of nitrile, latex, neoprene, and butyl rubber were tested to measure their effectiveness for protection against TiO2 nanoparticles in powdered form and in colloidal solution. Study results show possible penetration of nanoparticles in some types of gloves, particularly when the gloves are subjected to repeated mechanical deformation and when the nanoparticles are in colloidal solution. The research report states that although additional work is necessary to confirm the results, protective gloves should be replaced regularly, particularly if the material is thin or has been exposed to nanoparticles in colloidal solution.
The full study report is available on IRSST’s website.