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November 26, 2022492 ViewsGloves8

The main safety standard that applies to work gloves that protect against chemicals and micro-organisms is EN ISO 374 (previous name EN374). It actually consists of a suite of standards, which has been updated a number of times in recent years.

The main two standards for determining the chemical resistance of glove material are EN ISO 374-1:2016+A1:2018 2018 and EN ISO 374-4: 2019. Chemical resistant gloves that have been certified to these standards have been tested for their resistance to permeation and degradation by certain hazardous chemicals.

The standard under which gloves that protect against bacteria, fungi and viruses are tested is EN ISO 374-5: 2016.

What tests are carried out under EN374?

Gloves are classed as Type A, Type B or Type C, depending on how they perform in tests against permeation by a certain number of chemicals.

Permeation is the process by which a chemical moves through glove material, e.g., nitrile, latex, vinyl, on a molecular level. The permeation test measures breakthrough time, i.e., the time it takes for the chemical to move through the layers of the glove material.

Degradation is the change in the physical characteristics of a glove caused by contact with a chemical. Signs of degradation include flaking, swelling, disintegration, hardening or colour change.

Classification typeMinimum performance level required to pass the testMinimum no. of chemicals against which protection is provided
Type A2 (min. 30 minutes to breakthrough)6
Type B2 (min. 30 minutes to breakthrough)3
Type C1 (min. 10 minutes to breakthrough)1

There are six performance levels:

Performance levelMinimum breakthrough time
1> 10 minutes
2> 30 minutes
3> 60 minutes
4> 120 minutes
5> 240 minutes
6> 480 minutes

Under EN ISO 374-1: 2016, three samples from the palm of the glove (and, for gloves that are 400 mm or longer, three samples from the cuff also) are tested for permeation and degradation by a certain, minimum, number of chemicals from the following list of 18 substances:

ChemicalTypically used in/forCode letter
MethanolPaint manufacturing; fuel-cell manufacturing; organic chemical production; wastewater and sewage treatment; food and beverage processing; anti-freeze and de-icing productsA
AcetoneOrganic chemical production; chemicals transport; paint and varnish manufacturing; pharmaceuticals manufacturing; beauty treatmentsB
AcetonitrilePharmaceutical manufacturing; photographic film production; refineries; battery manufacturingC
DichloromethaneChemical processing; food and beverage processing; garment printing; civil engineering; welding plasticsD
Carbon disulphideSynthetic-fibre manufacturing; cellophane-film production; fruit and cereals production (for fumigation/as an insecticide)E
TolueneFuels production (as an octane booster); a common solvent used in e.g. paint, paint thinners, adhesives and lacquersF
DiethylamineCorrosion inhibitor; as a (non-pesticide) agricultural chemical for crops; in flotation agentsG
TetrahydrofuranSolvent used in synthetic-fibre manufacturingH
Ethyl acetateSolvent used in food and beverage industry (to decaffeinate tea leaves and coffee beans; wine production); beauty products (perfume) and treatmentsI
n-HeptaneA key component of petrol; solvent; paint and coatings manufacturingJ
Sodium hydroxide 40%(also known as lye or caustic soda) Pulp and paper manufacturing; textile manufacturing; soaps and detergents; cleaning productsK
Sulphuric acid 96%Fertiliser manufacturing; oil refining; wastewater processing; chemical synthesis; cleaning agentL
Nitric acid 65%Fertiliser production; explosives manufacturingM
Acetic acid 99%Textile printing; dye manufacturing; pharmaceuticals production; pesticides; cleaning agentN
Ammonium hydroxide 25%Adhesives; animal feed; cleaning and detergent productsO
Hydrogen peroxide 30%Oxidiser; bleaching agent; disinfectantP
Hydrofluoric acid 60%Chemicals and pharmaceuticals manufacturing; used to etch glass and ‘wafers’ in the semiconductor industryS
FormaldehydeIndustrial resin and coatings production; textiles processingT

 All gloves that have been tested to the EN ISO 374 standards carry marking that consists of a pictogram of a chemical flask; the type the gloves have been classed as (A, B or C); and a series of code letters indicating which chemicals the gloves are resistant to and therefore can be used with.

Which EN374 gloves should I choose?

When selecting chemical-resistant gloves, it is important to consider the chemicals being used, or that are involved in the task, and the level of protection required. For example, a glove that is resistant to solvents may not be resistant to acids.

In workplaces where exposure to bacteria, fungi and/or viruses is a risk, gloves tested to EN374-5: 2016 should be used. The main testing method to determine how well gloves protect the wearer from such micro-organisms is penetration. It involves testing the glove material for air leaks and water leaks – in other words, for holes. Gloves that offer protection from viruses undergo a separate, additional test, carried out according to ISO 16604:2004 for resistance to penetration by blood-borne pathogens.

Gloves that pass these tests are marked with the following pictogram and bear the word ‘VIRUS’ if they have passed this test – like.