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Nitrile is a synthetic material that is petroleum based. Unlike latex gloves, nitrile gloves contain no latex from natural rubber. Since many people have latex allergies, nitrile is a popular alternative. It performs well when you’re protecting yourself from bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. Nitrile gloves are generally available in industrial grade and medical or surgical grade. They are also available in a wide range of colors, sizes, textures, and thicknesses, making them one of the most versatile disposable gloves you can buy.
Nitrile gloves are petroleum based and contains nitrile butadiene rubber or NBR. NBR is a synthetic material that is made from the combination of butadiene and acrylonitrile. Acrylonitrile is a volatile liquid while butadiene is a colorless gas and an organic compound that easily liquifies. When both are combined, they cause a chemical reaction known as polymerization that creates liquid nitrile. The liquid nitrile is then filtered and combined with coagulating agents and antioxidants, transforming it into a more stable material.
Manufacturers first acquire synthetic rubber which is initially in a dried and crumbled form. This dried and crumbled synthetic rubber is turned into liquid to be shaped into gloves. This is done by using molds in the shape of human hands on a conveyor. The molds are coated with a substance that prevents the nitrile from sticking, then immersed into a vat of liquid nitrile. After the liquid nitrile covers the mold, it is then baked. They are then cooled and dried, taking the shape of the hand mold. Once the gloves are fully dried and cooled, they are removed from the molds, and then tested before being packaged to be sent to retailers and suppliers.
Nitrile gloves are stronger than latex gloves, they are sturdier and harder to puncture so they are perfect for the medical field. Nitrile gloves made to be used in medical settings must be carefully tested. All medical grade nitrile gloves undergo batch testing. One test is the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) pinhole test. In this test, the gloves are inflated with air and pricked with small pinholes to test the gloves for leaks. If more than a specific number of gloves in a batch fail the test, they cannot be marked as medical grade.
In addition to the pinhole test, glove manufacturers must demonstrate that the gloves are manufactured in a clean and safe facility that meets medical rating standards. The gloves are also measured for the correct size and thickness, and they need to pass aging tests and other additional trials. These tests ensure that the gloves meet all required medical standards for the safety of healthcare professionals and patients.