Nitrile Accelerator-Free Medical Gloves – A Better Alternative

As hospitals and other healthcare facilities have increasingly moved from latex exam gloves to nitrile exam gloves, skin irritation and allergy to non-latex gloves has also increased. To identify individuals with hypersensitivity to nitrile gloves, a new skin prick test has been developed by Dr. Santhosh Kumar of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. “If the patient is positive,” says, Dr. Kumar, “we tell them to avoid nitrile gloves,” and he recommends vinyl gloves as an option.

While vinyl gloves may be an option in some circumstances, they lack the elastic quality of nitrile and latex gloves, and do not provide the same level of protection. For instance, vinyl gloves are not approved for handling chemotherapy drugs. So are vinyl gloves the only option for workers that are sensitive to nitrile gloves?

Much research has been done over the past decade into the cause of skin irritation and allergy to non-latex gloves. Studies have shown that the sulfur-based chemical accelerators commonly used in the production of nitrile and other non-latex gloves can cause type IV allergy. A new generation of nitrile gloves is now available - free of these chemical accelerators. The new Accelerator-Free Nitrile Gloves may be a more acceptable alternative to traditional nitrile gloves for many healthcare workers and others that must wear medical grade hand protection.

General Accelerator Information

There are a variety of chemical accelerators (Thiurams, Mercaptobenzothiazoles, Dithiocarbamates (Carbamates) and Diphenyl guanidine (DPG) which are used in the manufacture of medical gloves.

Thiurams

The universal vulcanizing agent for rubber is sulfur, but sulfur donors, such as Thiurams, are often more efficient. Formulations containing Thiurams allow manufacturers to produce gloves at higher outputs, thus reducing the overall cost of the gloves. Thiurams are most commonly regarded as the primary cause of chemical allergy.

- Account for 60% of accelerator related skin irritation

Dithiocarbamates / Carbamates

Dithiocarbamates absorb sulfur and carry it into the glove material to facilitate cross-linking and curing. There are more than 34 types of these compounds. They contain zinc, which is important to the solubility of the accelerator in natural rubber and synthetic rubber and its ability to react with sulfur.

- Account for 30% of accelerator related skin irritation

Mercaptobenzothiazoles (MBTs)

MBTs react well with zinc, assisting with the cross-linking of the sulfur bonds and adding tensile strength to the glove. The incidence of sensitization to this group of compounds is lower than other accelerator compounds.

- Account for between 1% and 5% of accelerator related skin irritation

Diphenylguanidine (DPG)

Typically used as a secondary accelerator in dry rubber vulcanization. DPG exhibits better storage stability compared to Thiuram and Dithiocarbamates but is not so active. It is mostly used in poly-isoprene gloves to enhance cross link density and boost tensile properties. The incidence of sensitization to this chemical is on the rise following the increase in non-latex glove usage. Allergic reactions to this chemical are on the rise according to some recent reports.

Mercaptobenzothiazoles (MBTs)

MBTs react well with zinc, assisting with the cross-linking of the sulfur bonds and adding tensile strength to the glove. The incidence of sensitization to this group of compounds is lower than other accelerator compounds.

- Account for between 1% and 5% of accelerator related skin irritation

Diphenylguanidine (DPG)

Typically used as a secondary accelerator in dry rubber vulcanization. DPG exhibits better storage stability compared to Thiuram and Dithiocarbamates but is not so active. It is mostly used in poly-isoprene gloves to enhance cross link density and boost tensile properties. The incidence of sensitization to this chemical is on the rise following the increase in non-latex glove usage.

Allergic reactions to this chemical are on the rise according to some recent reports.

The PERFORMANCE SAFETY GROUP Solution

PSG has a range of disposable gloves delivering unprecedented sensitivity and comfort. Amongst these are our SURESHIELD® and ASZF Nitrile which are both Chemical-Accelerator Free and Natural Rubber Latex-Free, to help prevent the two allergic reactions associated with glove usage.

Made of 100% nitrile, SURESHIELD® Nitrile Accelerator-Free gloves are free of natural rubber latex and powder, minimizing the risk of Type I allergies. Plus, the complete absence of accelerator chemicals and the 100% Thiuram-Free formulation significantly reduce the risk of Type IV allergies. Chlorination of the glove’s inner coating enhances comfort, while the lack of powder decreases the risk of irritant contact dermatitis. Their textured fingertips ensure a secure grip on small objects, while the purple-blue color makes easy product identification possible. Packaged 200 gloves per box is not only good for the environment, it also means reduced waste, more efficient storage, less restocking and better pricing for our customers.

Like the SURESHIELD®, the ASZF Accelerator-Free Nitrile gloves are specifically designed without chemical accelerators lessening the risk of Type IV allergies. Heavy-Duty, extended cuffs and NFPA 1999, 2013 certification ensures unmatched barrier protection from blood-borne pathogens, harsh chemicals, chemotherapy agents and other biohazards in emergency environments. Powderless finish makes them suitable for laboratory, forensic and clinical settings and micro-textured finger surfaces guarantee a safe grip on instruments.

To learn more about Accelerator-Free Nitrile or discuss your medical facility’s Latex-Free Initiative, please contact PSG Medical Sales at 877.PSG.GLOVES (774.4568) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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