When setting up any school science experiment it’s important to follow all relevant health and safety procedures. Whether handling hazardous substances or demonstrating dissection, donning the appropriate protective clothing should be the first step.
The proper use of protective gloves is as important in a school setting as it is in any other controlled environment. With such a wide range of products available, we take a look at the differences to help you decide upon the ideal supplies for your store cupboard.
While many disposable gloves may look similar, they are often made from different materials. Each with their own unique properties. When choosing suitable gloves for your school science lab, why not consider the pros and cons of the different materials used in their manufacture?
Natural rubber latex is a processed plant product and has long been the traditional and trusted material of choice for manufacturing disposable gloves. Popular for use in both medical and industrial environments, latex gloves are said to fit like a second skin. With a high level of touch sensitivity, latex disposable gloves combine comfort with dexterity and flexibility.
Latex rubber also boasts strong elastic properties, offering reliable performance and barrier protection against infection and contamination. Furthermore, many latex products are lightly powdered on the inside, making them easier to pull on.
While costs can fluctuate due to the availability of natural resources, latex gloves are generally considered to be cost effective and are biodegradable to boot.
Often the primary reason to consider an alternative to the traditional latex glove is because of the potential for people to be allergic to the product. In a school setting, offering alternatives to latex ensures all pupils can take part in science experiments without the risk of an allergic reaction.
Nitrile gloves are made from a synthetic polymer and provide an ideal alternative if allergies are a concern. Exhibiting rubber-like characteristics, nitrile offers much of the same flexibility and sensitivity of fit as latex. Furthermore, nitrile gloves also provide similar levels of tensile strength and durability.
Said to be superior in terms of puncture resistance, nitrile gloves are often described as ‘medical grade’. Also available in bright colours, it makes it easier to spot if the gloves have been punctured, ensuring they work well in high-risk situations involving infectious materials.
Furthermore, nitrile is resistant to many chemicals, particularly petroleum-based products, making it an effective material for safeguarding when handling hazardous substances.
This added protection, however, can come at a price and nitrile gloves are often more expensive to produce and purchase than the other options.
Vinyl gloves were the first synthetic alternative available to the consumer, offering an allergy free option to latex. Composed of polyvinyl chloride and plasticizers which soften the material, vinyl gloves are an economical alternative and the cheapest option available.
The fit and feel of vinyl gloves mean that they may not be ideal for activities requiring a high level of tactile precision. Looser and less durable than latex and nitrile, vinyl gloves are a popular choice for situations where high levels of durability and protection are less of a priority. Best for use with non-hazardous materials, vinyl makes a good multi-purpose glove for general use. Vinyl gloves are great for basic hand protection in a low infection environment.
When choosing disposable gloves for your science supplies, the most important consideration is the level of protection you and your pupils require.
Contact Edulab’s friendly team today for a range of disposable gloves and additional protective equipment to ensure your science lessons run smoothly.