Choosing the right gloves when weighing hazardous chemicals using analytical balances
Laboratory employees often encounter or interact with hazardous chemicals on a regular basis. We can help with our high-quality line of Torbal Scales and Analytical Balances, too. One thing many workers overlook, though, is selecting the right glove for the job. Even when weighing out high-viscosity hazardous liquids, the right gloves need to be chosen to protect skin.
Latex gloves have been losing popularity in the past decade, stepping aside for the more popular and resilient nitrile gloves to take their place. Latex gloves offer the advantage of higher sensitivity, but when working with dangerous chemicals, you don't need to really feel the weigh boat as much as you need to protect your hands. Generally, latex gloves do not offer significant advantages over nitrile gloves when working with hazardous chemicals.
For workers who run agarose gels that require the use of ethidium bromide, latex gloves aren't suitable at all. Ethidium bromide intercalates between the rungs of DNA, which makes it both a mutagen and a carcinogen. It can do this because it's very small. Unfortunately, it can also pass right through latex, in part because of its small size. For lab workers who work with ethidium bromide, two layers of nitrile gloves are much safer than latex.
Nitrile gloves offer a nice blend of comfort and sensitivity with protection and security. Acetone that would dissolve latex gloves relatively quickly will also dissolve nitrile gloves, but it takes more time and allows the user to change gloves before the acetone has leaked through completely. Other organic solvents respond in similar ways to nitrile. One common laboratory substance that passes through both latex and nitrile, however, is DMSO. For that, neoprene gloves are necessary.
DMSO, itself, is not particularly hazardous. In fact, it's sometimes included with drugs meant for neural tissue sites because DMSO has an excellent ability to penetrate into tissue and can act as a carrier for drugs that have trouble otherwise getting past the blood-brain barrier. This carrier activity, however, makes it very dangerous when combining it with other chemicals that otherwise wouldn't pass through nitrile.
If the only types of gloves available are nitrile gloves, many people choose to wear two gloves on each hand for an extra added layer of protection.
These heavy duty gloves aren't disposable like latex and nitrile gloves are. Instead, they're meant to be cleaned and re-used. The insides, however, sometimes smell like sulfur so many users opt to wear nitrile or latex gloves inside neoprene gloves. Neoprene gloves are so thick that there isn't a lot of sensitivity, anyway, so there isn't much loss in adding another thin layer.
For more information on safe laboratory practices when working with dangerous chemicals, feel free to contact us.