Cytotoxic Chemicals – Are You Using the Correct Disposable Gloves?

A Guide to Disposable Gloves – Protection Against Cytotoxic Chemicals

Wearing gloves in a controlled environment serves the purpose of protecting the user from chemical contamination, as well as protecting the product from contamination. However, when protecting the wearer in a cytotoxic situation, higher grade protection is required to prevent contamination from aggressive cytotoxic chemicals and drugs. Simply having waterproof and puncture resistant properties does not make the garment resistant to harmful chemicals.

Use of Disposable Gloves in Cytotoxic Situations

So, what is the best solution for strong resistance against cytotoxic chemicals?

Thin, disposable, nitrile gloves are the most common type to be used when handling chemicals in laboratories; however, it is important to remember that thin nitrile rubber provides only limited chemical protection.

Contrary to widespread assumption, standard examination grade gloves are not suitable for most GMP cleanroom use. These are designed for use in low-risk applications, such as food processing or general handling of chemicals, in order to protect the wearer from surface contact with substances. Furthermore, it should be noted that drugs and other chemicals can permeate* this otherwise waterproof material – in particular, most medical gloves have a very low resistance to the accidental spillage of cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs. This can pose a significant risk to clinical staff. It is important that the right glove is selected for the appropriate application, particularly in cytotoxic situations where aggressive drugs and chemicals are handled.

*Permeation is the rate at which a substance passes through the material once breakthrough takes place. This rate includes absorption on the surface, diffusion through the material, and desorption on the inside surface. (Source –

For a glove to be fully resistant against Cytotoxic chemicals and drugs, it is important that they conform to the standard ASTM D6978-05. (Please refer to the chart below to understand the conformity standards for disposable gloves).


The Ideal Solution for Chemotherapy and Cytotoxic Drug Resistance


Whilst medical examination gloves are more suited to low-risk applications, Chemotherapy and Cytotoxic Resistant Nitrile Gloves have a combination of chemical resistance and high material purity – resulting in remarkable resistance to even the most aggressive chemotherapy drugs.

This product has been proven to resist permeation by chemotherapy drugs under ASTM D6978-05, having been tested against a wide range of chemotherapy drugs including Carmustine and ThioTEPA. (Further technical details of this product can be viewed here).

The nitrile material offers better chemical resistance, whilst also preventing potential allergic reactions to latex.

This glove is ideally suited to the following applications:

  • Oncology
  • Handling of Cytotoxic chemicals and drugs

Other features include:

  • Better puncture resistance than latex and vinyl
  • High stretch – for a high degree of comfort and fit
  • Powder free – for hygiene and convenience
  • Lightweight construction – for high sensitivity
  • Super pure material – ultra low dermatitis risk and zero natural rubber latex allergy risk
  • Latex free – no risk of natural rubber (See Latex Allergy).
  • Food contact approved – safe for use with all food types.

Nitrile Examination Gloves – Features and Suitable Applications


On the contrary, Nitrile Examination Gloves are ideally suited to lower grade, minimal risk applications including the following:

  • Food processing/handling
  • Chemical processing
  • Handling of biohazards
  • General handling of dilute chemicals.

(It should be noted that this product is not recommended for use with corrosive liquids).

Nitrile material offers better cytotoxic chemical resistance and an added degree of durability compared to latex, making these examination gloves ideal for the general handling of dilute chemicals.

This product has been tested to the following standards: (Please refer to the above table).

  • EN 374-1
  • EN 374-5
  • AQL 1.5

Selecting the Appropriate Disposable Gloves

Cleanroom Supplies stock a wide range of disposable gloves – available in a range of sizes, colours, materials and applications, as well as the option for sterile or non-sterile products. You can view our category page here.

We’ve also put together a short but helpful guide to help you make the best choice regarding disposable gloves!

You may also be interested in our Glove Dispensers – please telephone 01768 896 800 if you would like further assistance. Or if you prefer, complete our Enquiry Form.

A Guide to Glove Safety: EN 374

Protecting Hands Against Chemical Exposures

Cleanroom Supplies Glove Selection Guide

Blog: Disposable Cleanroom Gloves – What are the Choices?

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