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Revised February 9, 2000

Glove Selection For Chemical Usage
In laboratories, assuming that most chemicals are used in fumehoods, probably the greatest exposure to chemicals is through skin contact. One of the reasons for this is that laboratory workers do not always use the proper gloves to prevent chemicals being absorbed into their skin. This can result in serious health effects, particularly when using highly toxic chemicals that are readily absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin. An unfortunate example of this occurred in a university research laboratory in the United States, where a worker was fatally injured due to the skin absorption of dimethyl mercury through a latex glove.

When selecting a chemical protective glove, there are a number of criteria which need to be considered. This safety notice is intended to help users in selecting the most appropriate chemical resistant glove for a given application.

Below are some guidelines on what to look for when using or purchasing filing cabinets.

Glove Selection Criteria:
Select a glove that is resistant to the chemical being used. Refer to the material safety data sheet for information or contact the glove manufacturer when dealing with extremely toxic materials.
Gloves should be selected for low permeation by the chemical and resistance to chemical degradation. Permeation refers to the capacity of a given chemical to pass through the glove material at the molecular level. Degradation is the actual chemical breakdown of the glove material.
What are the conditions of use and the tasks to be conducted? For example, will the work involve brief or prolonged contact with the chemical? Consider the degree of dexterity required and the physical stresses that must be applied.
Always check gloves for holes prior to putting them on. Even new gloves may have a hole. Check for holes by trapping air in the glove and seeing if it leaks out.
Reusable gloves should be rinsed after use and allowed to air dry. Replace reusable gloves whenever they show signs of damage or become discoloured.

No single glove material will protect against all chemicals.

Different glove materials interact differently with different types of chemicals. It is therefore important to match the right glove material to the type of chemical(s) being used.

Natural rubber latex gloves may be suitable for dilute aqueous solutions; however, oils, greases and many organic solvents will easily permeate the latex material. Nitrile gloves may be used against oils and greases and some organic compounds but are generally unsatisfactory for use against aromatic or halogenated solvents.

No glove material is totally impermeable.

Glove materials only temporarily resist chemical breakthrough and the chemical will permeate through the glove material over time. Even the best chemically resistant glove will break down after repeated chemical exposures.

Glove performance can vary with product and manufacturer.

Chemical resistance of a particular type of glove material (e.g. nitrile) can vary significantly from product to product and from manufacturer to manufacturer. The degree of protection will depend on factors related to the specific glove itself, including its chemical make-up, thickness, design and method of construction. It is important to compare performance data from individual manufacturers.


A summary table of general chemical resistance and physical properties of common glove materials is provided in the attached table. Users should consult the material safety data sheet of the specific chemical for the recommended chemical resistant glove. Further chemical resistance data can be obtained from individual glove manufacturers for their own glove products. You can also contact DOHS for further assistance in glove selection. The following web sites provide chemical resistance information:
National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommendations for Chemical Protective Clothing.
Best Gloves.
Ansell Edmont Chemical Application Recommendation Guide.

Chemical Resistance and Physical Properties of Common Glove Materials*
The following table should be used only as a general guideline during glove selection. Always consult the glove manufacturer's chemical resistance and physical properties test data on specific glove products.

* Adapted from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Guidelines for the Selection of Chemical Protective Clothing.

Natural Rubber Latex Acids, bases, aqueous solutions. Oils, greases, organics.
Butyl Rubber Aldehydes, ketones, esters, glycol ethers, polar organic solvents. Hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents.
Neoprene Oxidizing acids, caustics, alcohols, oils, fats, aniline, phenol, glycol ethers. Chlorinated hydrocarbons.
Nitrile Oils, greases, acids, caustics, aliphatic chemicals. Aromatics, many ketones, esters, many chlorinated solvents.
Polyvinyl alcohol
Aliphatics, aromatics, chlorinated solvents, ketones (except acetone, esters and ethers). Acids, alcohols and bases.

Polyvinyl chloride

Strong acids and bases, salts, other aqueous solutions, alcohols, glycol ethers. Aromatics, hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents, aldehydes, ketones, nitrocompounds.
Aromatic and chlorinated solvents, aliphatics and alcohols. Some ketones, esters, amines.
Silver Shield
(Norfoil®, 4H®)
Wide range of solvents acids and bases.