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Posted: Jun 14, 2012
Efficacy of protective gloves against nanoparticles
(Nanowerk News) The growing number of industrial applications for nanotechnologies is increasing workers' risk of exposure to substances whose health effects are still not well known. In view of the need to use individual means of protection, researchers at the École de technologie supérieure, École Polytechnique, Université de Montréal and Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) have developed a method for measuring the efficacy of the materials used to make gloves that protect the wearer against nanoparticles ("Development of a method for measuring nanoparticle penetration through glove materials under conditions simulating workplace use").
The experimental design also makes it possible to simulate the conditions in which the gloves are used in the workplace during exposure to nanoparticles, in particular the mechanical loads and the microclimate inside the gloves.
Preliminary tests and results
After developing a sampling protocol and selecting the best analysis and measurement techniques, the research team carried out preliminary tests using four models of nitrile, latex, neoprene and butyl rubber protective gloves and commercial titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles in powder and colloidal solution form.
"The results appear to indicate that powder nanoparticles penetrated the disposable nitrile gloves after seven hours of repeated deformation, while the butyl gloves appeared to be impermeable," explained investigator Patricia Dolez, the main author of the report. "As for nanoparticles in colloidal solutions, we measured a possibility of penetration through the gloves, in particular when the gloves were subjected to repeated deformation. These preliminary data, which need to be validated by additional studies, show that it is important to continue work in this field."
Based on the results, the research team recommends that care be taken when choosing and using this type of personal protective equipment.
"We recommend replacing, at regular intervals, protective gloves that are worn, especially thinner gloves, and gloves that have been exposed to nanoparticles in colloidal solutions," Dr. Dolez concluded.