How to Choose Gloves

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Iowa State University Extension

Summary Statement

Brief discussion of glove materials for pesticide protection.

Not all glove materials are alike when it comes to pesticide protection. The precautionary statement on the pesticide label indicates if chemically resistant gloves are needed. You can choose among several types.

Chemically resistant gloves are made with different rubbers: natural, butyl, chloroprene, nitrile, and fluorocarbon (Viton); or various plastics: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyvinyl alcohol, and polyethylene. These materials can be blended or laminated together for better performance. Silver Shield and 4H have good chemical resistance and are barrier laminates.

In testing gloves for comparison, scientists measure "chemical breakthrough" time. This is the amount of time needed for a specific pure chemical to permeate (soak) through the glove. The longer the time, the better the protection, but an 8-hour breakthrough time is common. When selecting glove materials, consider not only the pesticide's active ingredient, but also its formulation.

Most rubbers and plastics are resistant to dry and/or water-based pesticides. However, for other pesticide formulations, such as emulsifiable concentrates, the glove material also must resist the solvent. Common solvents are xylene, fuel oil, petroleum distillates, and alcohol. If the pesticide label does not specify a glove material, select a butyl, nitrile, or a barrier laminate glove.

Cotton, canvas, and leather gloves are easily penetrated and hard to clean so they are not recommended for work with pesticides. If a material is not resistant to your pesticide, you will probably notice some glove damage right away. If so, discard them immediately and try a different glove material.

For more information, contact your extension office for a free copy of a new publication, Keep gloves handy for pesticide work, Pm-1518e.