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Nitrile Gloves: Medical Grade vs Industrial Grade

When you’re working in a medical, chemical or first aid scenario, or as a mechanic on a vehicle, it’s really important that you are guaranteed protection against any dangerous microbes, corrosive fluids, harmful chemicals, or any other foreign invaders that can damage you. You must be able to see what you’re working with and perform complicated, fiddly processes without your gloves getting in the way or hindering you. It’s also absolutely essential that safety standards are enforced in every hospital and medical practice, and gloves fall under these requirements. They need to be medical grade. They cannot give the wearer or the patient any allergic reactions, as this can worsen the current condition or slow down operating. You also want them to be durable and long-lasting so they don’t break right in the middle of an intense procedure.

So, are nitrile gloves really medical grade? What makes them different from latex gloves – stronger, more elastic, better fitting, etc? And how do medical grade nitrile gloves compare to industrial-grade nitrile gloves? In this article, we’ll explore all that and more.

Medical grades can mean various different definitions to different people, practices and institutions. Manufacturers look at medical-grade through the lens of how durable, strong and well tested their products are. For medical appliances, the manufacturer absolutely must ensure that the products have been put through rigorous production regulations and testing so that they are fit for the operating workplace. However, from a hospital’s perspective, medical-grade means clean and thoroughly sanitized and sterilised, so the wearer won’t catch any germs and so that the patient or casualty isn’t infected with microbes either. They also need to be well-fitting so that intricate operations and procedures can be enacted without delay or any obstruction.

Medical grade nitrile gloves, understandably then, must fulfill all of these requirements and more to be approved by hospitals and medical institutions into practice. In the gloves industry, medical-grade – for the most part – means that they have been tested, inspected and approved by the FDA, or whichever agency is covering health standards in your country. Without this approval, practically no hospital will ever go ahead with purchasing the gloves, so it’s imperative that the manufacturer adheres to the rules set out by the inspection agency.

The inspecting agency takes into account numerous considerations, notably how the gloves are made. If they are produced with harmful powders or chemicals which unnaturally speed up the process, then the gloves will not be allowed for selling. This is because these chemicals have often caused allergic reactions in the wearer. Latex gloves have been approved as medical-grade protective clothing, despite causing allergies – but that’s because the protein is natural and a man-made, added in chemical. The approving agency also checks for other qualifications, such as durability, and how long the gloves last. This process can take a long time, and the testing is rigorous, so customers of nitrile gloves can be sure that they’re almost guaranteed of reliability and medical-grade standards.

Industrial gloves on the other hand tend to go through far less intense approval processes. These do not need to be so safe as they are typically not used around patients and casualties. Instead, they are popularly used in mechanics, beauty, homework, building, plumbing and painting. Industrial grade gloves are still extremely puncture-resistant, but perhaps not as medically safe as nitrile gloves that have been formally approved.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice.