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Description

Disposable nitrile gloves refers to gloves that are intended for one-time use and have a thickness of 5-mil or less. Nitrile glove use is ubiquitous in heritage environments. However, not all gloves are created equal. Nitrile gloves are manufactured myriad ways, resulting in gloves with varied textures, chemical composition, and fit. Textured gloves should be avoided for use when handling art as should gloves that contain powders (gloves that are preferred are advertised as "powder-free").

Synonyms and Related Terms

Disposable gloves; "Rubber gloves"

Applications

Personal Risks

Wearing gloves can protect art from having human oils and fingerprints deposited onto it. However, it should be kept in mind that the gloves themselves may impart materials onto art, which is why it is important to use the best (ie, most archival) glove when handling art.

Collection Risks

Environmental Risks

Physical and Chemical Properties

Working Properties

Excerpt from Table 2 in Determination of nitrile gloves appropriate for use when dry handling art, by Stephens, Breitung, Geiculescu, and Strange (see references)
Manufacturer Brand Name Leaves a visible residue? Modified Oddy Final result Cl- content (ug/g) Recommended for use?
Showa® 7500PF blue economy grade gloves No T 2 Yes
Ansell Ltd. BioClean™ Biotac white nitrile cleanroom gloves No T 125 Yes
Uline S-21081 black exam grade nitrile gloves No T 667 More work necessary
Fisherbrand™ Comfort blue nitrile gloves No T -- More work necessary
Uline S-14179 blue industrial nitrile gloves No T -- More work necessary
Balco Industries, Inc.© Premium Handcovers dark blue nitrile gloves No U 38 No
Showa® 8050PF N-Dex® blue disposable nitrile gloves No U 65 No
Condor® Powder-free blue unlined nitrile gloves No U -- No
Uline S-16768 blue comfort industrial nitrile gloves No U 2630 No
Showa® 8005PF N-Dex® blue disposable nitrile gloves Yes T 2 No
Ansell Ltd. Microflex® Onyx® N64 black exam gloves Yes T -- No
Kimberly-Clark KC500 Professional™ purple nitrile powder-free exam gloves Yes U 111 No
Ansell Ltd. Microflex® FreeForm® SE blue powder-free nitrile gloves Yes U 357 No
The Safety Zone® Black standard textured nitrile gloves Yes U 33 No
Sempermed® SemperForce® black nitrile examination gloves Yes U 564 No
Showa® 6110PF green biodegradable disposable gloves Yes U 365 No
Kimberly-Clark KC100 Professional™ Lavender™ nitrile exam gloves Yes U 642 No
NSI FlexShield® 9.5" blue disposable nitrile gloves Yes U 588 No
Sempermed® Sempercare® blue nitrile examination gloves Yes U 1580 No

Forms and Sizes

Resources and Citations

Mason, J. (2018). Handling Heritage Objects Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa, Canada.

Hoffman, W. (2009). Silver tarnishing properties of gloves used in conservation [Research Report] Kingston (Ontario): Queens University.

Imamura, L. (2016). Investigation of nitrile gloves for the handling of silver objects [Research Report] Kingston (Ontario): Queens University.

Barker, C. S. (2010). How to select gloves: an overview for collections staff Washington, DC: National Parks Service. Report 1/12. Conserve O Gram.

Stephens, C. H., Breitung, E. M., Geiculescu, C., Strange, T. (2021). Determination of nitrile gloves appropriate for use when dry handling art Journal of the American Institute for Conservation doi.org/10.1080/01971360.2021.1913543

Summary: Results indicated that the best gloves to use when dry handling art include: Ansell Bioclean Biotac white cleanroom gloves and Showa 7500PF blue economy gloves. Ideal testing for nitrile gloves is ion chromatography, where the chlorine content should be determined. Gloves with less than 100 ppm chlorine are best to use. Testing of gloves should be conducted bi-annually to make sure they remain appropriate for use.

Fact Sheet: Disposable Nitrile Gloves in Chemical Labs. 2022. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Environmental Health & Radiation Safety Department. [accessed 4/11/2022]