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Disposable gloves support a wide array of uses in a plethora of industries. Prior to use the gloves must go through rigorous inspections to ensure they can provide the best protection. In industrial industries such as automotive, sanitation and agricultural, employees handle a large number of harsh chemicals and solvents meaning the gloves they wear must be able to provide the right amount of protection and chemical resistance. This follows for medical and exam applications where employees need barrier protection against bodily fluids and bloodborne pathogens.
Glove manufacturers use extensive testing to determine the use case and application that gloves are best suited for. Medical-grade gloves have a higher standard of testing, below you will learn about the process.
Standard for Minimum Quality:
Glove inspection is based on acceptable quality limits, also known as AQL. This standard is set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, while the testing methods for the AQL are set by the American Society for Testing and Material, ASTM. The American Society for Testing and Material creates standards for a variety of industries across the world.
AQL is a method that is applied to different batches of gloves and functions as a percentage. For example, if you have a batch of 100 gloves with an AQL of 3.0, there are only three gloves in the batch that can fail the test. For medical grade gloves the AQL needs to be 1.5 or lower. If more than three gloves fail with medical grade gloves the entirety of the batch does not meet the standard. This will cause manufacturers to review the entire proves to determine where to adjust. Given the large variety of risks in the medical field, the AQL is lower for medical grade gloves.
Testing Methods for Gloves:
Glove quality testing involves various different inspection. The pinhole leak test, check for barrier integrity, this determines whether or not the gloves are suitable for medical applications. Even the smallest breach in the glove material can permit exposure to pathogens. During this test manufacturers will fill the gloves with one liter of water, secure the gloves closed at the cuff, and then hang the gloves upside-down. Gloves that do not have leakage during the testing period are suitable for medical applications.
Manufactures typically produce medical grade and industrial grade gloves on the same line. Industrial grade gloves also need to pall standard quality testing by the manufacturer they are not required to undergo testing for medical purposes. Industrial gloves still of a safe and reliable quality, but this provides a cost-effective way for manufactures to produce both types of gloves while also delivering the proper level of quality.