The first disposable gloves were created in 1894 by a surgeon-in-chief named William Stewart Halsted at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Disposable gloves protect healthcare providers and patients as an essential item in any healthcare environment. They are generally made from one of three materials: latex, nitrile, or vinyl. Different materials make certain products a better fit for different medical environments.
For decades, latex gloves have been a go-to in the healthcare environment. Latex gloves were recommended for protection against blood borne pathogens like HIV during the 1980s and 1990s. The more latex gloves were used during this time, the higher the cases of allergic reactions became. The case amount of allergic reactions led to a demand for latex-free glove alternatives, like nitrile and vinyl. For individuals that are not allergic to latex, they are comfortable, offer a high amount of touch sensitivity, and are relatively cost-effective. Latex gloves are suitable for most medical environments.
Vinyl gloves are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer. A prime benefit of vinyl gloves is that they are inexpensive to manufacture. They are less durable and offer a more limited protection against biomedical and chemical exposure than nitrile and latex gloves. Once the glove is stretched/flexed the molecules individually separate and the protective barrier of the glove is compromised. Vinyl gloves are best used in non-hazardous and low-infection environments.
Nitrile gloves hit the scene in the 1990s as a latex alternative glove. Disposable nitrile gloves are notably more durable and chemical resistant, while not being as elastic or flexible as latex. These gloves are ideal for handling corrosive or potentially hazardous chemicals. Nitrile gloves work in most medical environments, as an eliminator of latex allergic reactions and notably puncture-resistant.
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