Medical Exam Gloves  
Inside Knowledge on Latex, Vinyl, and Nitrile Exam Gloves  
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Phthalates - The New Danger for Exam Gloves?

Phthalates & Medical Vinyl Gloves

I have had nurses ask if she should stop using vinyl gloves due to phthalate concerns and I shared my view with her.  There is no exam glove that is without health risk to everyone.  Wearing gloves is not natural and there are many chemicals that are used to manufacture gloves.  However, manufacturers are aware of this and have minimized the risks by using material that people will have minimal reactions.  It’s the same with everything you purchase… there is always a risk.  Most major glove brands (ie: Medline, Cardinal Health, Kimberly-Clark, Ansell) have switched to alternative plasticizers in their synthetic gloves and banned the use of DEHP phthalates.

Phthalate poisoning is typically caused by ingestion of material that is composed of phthalates.  In addition, tests have shown that infants are more likely to be victims of poisoning than adults.  Knowing this, we can be smart about minimizing the risks of phthalates.

If you are still concerned, you can always convert to using nitrile exam gloves to eliminate possible phthalate poisoning caused by gloves.  However, this is not cost effective for all facilities.  Another approach is to substitute the vinyl exam gloves in areas catered to infants and children like NICUs and PICUs. 

Vinyl synthetic exam gloves are still the cost effective approach for hospitals.  Given today’s technology improvements in exam gloves, vinyl gloves provide comparable protection to latex gloves and can be used in most healthcare environments.  Although the risks of phthalates are getting more attention in the media, this is primarily due to children being poisoned by swallowing pieces of plastic toys.  Good education to healthcare workers can minimize risks associated with phthalate.

- Mr. Glove   

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