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All employees handling hazardous materials must wear the appropriate PPE when necessary. Standard lab PPE includes a lab coat, safety glasses, and gloves such as powder-free SafeSkin, N-dex, or NeoPro, and closed shoes. Due to possible chemical exposure to legs, all workers handling hazardous materials should wear pants or the equivalent.

The two most common routes of exposure when handling chemicals in the lab are inhalation and skin contact or absorption. Handling chemicals in the fume hood reduces the inhalation hazard and provides protection from splashes. Use of proper gloves and other PPE will prevent skin exposure and damage.

6.1 Gloves

Gloves are used to protect hands and in some cases portions of the arms from coming into contact with a hazard. In the laboratory the main hazards involve chemicals, biological material, radioactive materials, sharp objects, and extreme temperatures (autoclave, liquid nitrogen).

6.1.1 Selection

Glove selection is based on the following factors to determine the best option for each task.

  1. Chemical and physical hazard(s)
    For chemical hazards the best source of information is a chemical resistance chart or database. These are available from many manufacturers and provide guidance on a glove's compatibility with a chemical. This information will guide selection of a glove's material and thickness. The information available may not include every glove nor compatibility data for every chemical. Manufacturers provide varying degrees of information and may have different definitions of permeability, permeation rate, and degradation rating. They also use different rating systems making comparison between manufacturers difficult at times. Links to several manufacturer's charts or databases are located in section 6.1.8. Material safety data sheets may also provide some guidance on the selection of glove material.

    Glove selection must also take into account non-hazardous materials. For example, Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) gloves work very well for protection against some organic solvents but the coating is water soluble and will quickly degrade when in contact with an aqueous solution.

    Common physical hazards in the laboratory involve sharp objects or extreme temperatures. Leather and metal mesh gloves offer good resistance to bites, glass punctures and cuts. Looped terry cloth gloves are a good option for handling autoclaved items assuming they are dry and cool. Gloves appropriate for liquid nitrogen are discussed in Section 12.6.

    If you need assistance choosing the proper glove, contact EH&S.

  2. Potential contact time and splash hazard

    The higher the potential contact time or risk of splash (by nature of the task or volume) requires higher protection via a thicker or longer glove. Immersing fingers, hands or forearms into a hazardous material would require greater protection than from incidental contact with small volumes. Pouring a substance would likely require more protection than pipetting work due to the risk of splashing during pouring.

  3. Dexterity

    A balance must be struck when selecting gloves when hazardous materials are involved with precise tasks. A thicker glove may provide better protection but loss of dexterity may increase the risk of a spill.

Contact EH&S if you have any concerns or questions or would like guidance with glove selection.

6.1.2 Disposable Gloves (small quantity handling)

Disposable gloves are thin (< 8 mil) and most commonly made from latex rubber, nitrile rubber, polyvinyl chloride, or Neoprene. Disposable latex gloves typically offer sufficient protection when handling small quantities or diluted chemicals with a low chance for contact or splash. They are not designed for applications involving prolonged, direct exposure to chemicals, but instead for incidental splash exposures. Nitrile gloves provide protection from a wider range of hazardous materials and are more resistant to tearing. Table 6.1.2.1 shows glove recommendation for handling small quantities of common lab chemicals.

Disposable gloves must not be reused.

If chemical contamination occurs while wearing disposable gloves, immediately remove and discard the gloves. If contamination results from incidental contact (small amounts of chemicals that will dry quickly), remove the gloves and dispose of them in the regular garbage. If gloves are grossly contaminated (were immersed in, saturated with, or are still wet with chemicals), they should be collected as hazardous waste in a plastic bag as described in Chapter VI, Section 4.2.4, Solid Chemical Wastes. After removing contaminated gloves, wash your hands and don a new pair of gloves. Contact EH&S for assistance in determining the best disposal option for gloves contaminated by a particular chemical.

Table 6.1.2.1: Glove Recommendations for Small Quantity Handling

Hazardous Material

Latex Exam Gloves*

Best N-Dex 7005 (4 mil)

Acetic acid

NT

x

Acetone

NT

x

Acetonitrile  

NT

x

Acrylamide

NT

x

Chloroform

NT

x

DMSO

NT

x

Ethanol

NT

x

Ethidium bromide

NT

x

Methanol

NT

x

Phenol

NT

x

Sodium hypochlorite

NT

x

Blood and body fluids

x

 

Radioactive isotopes

x

 

NT = Not Tested x = Best Glove Choice
*Powdered latex gloves are prohibited.

6.1.3 Reusable Gloves (large quantity handling)

Reusable gloves are thicker and offered in a wider range of materials. The most common are latex rubber, nitrile rubber, Neoprene, Viton, or butyl rubber. These gloves are necessary when handling large quantities or chemicals where significant contact or splash is likely. Once contaminated: they may be washed and dried. Signs of degradation include tears, holes, cracking, swelling, hardening, etc., and if found, the gloves must be properly disposed as outlined in 6.1.2. Table 6.1.2.2 shows glove recommendation for handling large quantities of common lab chemicals.

Table 6.1.2.2: Specialty Gloves for Large Quantity Handling

Hazardous Material

Ansell Edmont Natural Rubber

Ansell Edmont Neoprene

(15 mil)

Best Nitro-Solv 727

(15 mil)

North Butyl Rubber

(17 mil)

Ansell Edmont Supported PVA

Ansell Edmont 4H

Acetic acid

X

X

 

 

 

X

Acetone

X

X

 

X

 

 

Acetonitrile

X

X

 

X

 

X

Acrylamide

 

X

X

 

 

 

Chloroform

 

 

 

 

X

X

DMSO

X

X

X

X

 

 

Ethanol

X

X

 

X

 

X

Ethidium bromide

X

X

 

 

 

 

Methanol

X

X

 

 

 

 

Phenol

X

X

 

X

X

 

Sodium hypochlorite

X

X

X

 

 

 

X = Best Glove Choice

6.1.4 Gloves Use Restrictions

Gloves should not be worn in elevators, restrooms, library, conference rooms, cafeterias (or other eating areas), stairs, offices, or non-lab floors.

If you are wearing gloves, remove them before answering the phone or touching equipment or doorknobs. This will prevent contamination of facilities and other personnel if your gloves are contaminated. Conversely, it will prevent contamination of your gloves if they are being used to protect the material you are handling.

Use a secondary container to transport materials. It will allow you to remove your gloves as well as protect your work.

6.1.5 Latex Allergies

A latex allergy is an allergy to products made from natural rubber latex. It is usually a reaction to proteins in the rubber that are still present in products made from natural rubber latex. In the case of powdered latex gloves, it has been determined that the corn starch powder is the carrier of the latex allergen. A recent study demonstrated that corn starch binds with the allergenic latex proteins and transports them by direct contact with the skin and/or by exposure to airborne particles.

Latex allergies can produce a variety of symptoms. The severity of the reaction depends on the potency of the allergen, its concentration, the duration of exposure, and the individual's sensitivity. Factors that exacerbate the severity of the contact dermatitis include friction, pressure, sweating, and previous dermatological disease. Currently, the rate of latex allergy prevalence among lab and healthcare workers has been estimated between 6-14%, compared with 1% in the general population.

There is no treatment available for latex allergies. The only means of controlling allergic reactions is strict avoidance of latex exposure. Employees who have been diagnosed with latex allergies should:

  1. Carry and use non-latex gloves and/or non-powdered latex gloves.
  2. Wear an allergy bracelet.
  3. Inform physicians, dentists, and the Occupational Health Nurse (OHN) of allergies before receiving care.

6.1.6 Powdered Latex Prohibited

Fred Hutch prohibits the use of powdered latex gloves, but does permit the use of nonpowdered latex gloves. This is to prevent employees from developing latex allergies and to protect employees who have latex allergies. The powder carries the latex and, when airborne, it can trigger a response in those who are sensitive. The airborne powder contributes to the development of allergies to latex. If you prefer a powdered glove, you can use a powdered nitrile glove such as Microflex, Nitron One, or N-dex. In general, a nitrile glove will provide better protection when handling chemicals and is recommended.

6.1.7 Doubling Gloving

Double gloving is recommended under several circumstances to provide adequate protection. It is important to double glove when handling millicurie amounts of 125I or 131I, changing the outer glove frequently. Double gloving is required when handling HIV cultures or when human blood routinely contacts gloved hands. If you are handling a highly toxic or a dangerously toxic chemical, but still need good dexterity to perform the work, wearing latex over nitrile gloves will provide adequate protection without impeding dexterity.

6.1.8 Glove Charts and Databases

Glove recommendations in the charts and databases are typically based on permeation and degradation testing. In general, manufacturers use the following for assessing glove chemical resistance.

  • Breakthrough Time: Time it takes for the chemical to travel through the glove material.
  • Permeation Rate: Highest rate at which the chemical migrates after breakthrough has occurred.
  • Degradation Rating: Evaluates any changes in the physical properties of the material which includes hardening, softening, cracking, swelling, etc.

Note: It is very important to understand each manufacturer's definitions and source of data. Some manufacturers rely on reference materials while others use data from one glove for all gloves of similar material and thickness. Others only publish data for testing done on each glove material and thickness and communicate if a glove has not been tested against materials in the table. Below is a list of some common vendors with links to their glove interactive database or charts.

Manufacture

Interactive Database    

Chart

Ansell

AnsellPro SpecWare (for thin lab gloves, select Splash Guide results)

For thicker gloves only: Ansell_8th Edition Chemical Resistance Guide

Best

Showa (select US then Chemrest – Chemical Resistance Guide)

N/A

Kimberly-Clark

http://www.kcprofessional.com/us/mkt/ChemicalSelectorGuide/

N/A

Microflex

N/A

Microflex Product Literature (for Microflex thin latex and nitrile gloves), select Microflex Chemical Resistance Guide)

6.2 Lab Coats

Lab coats are available for all employees whose jobs involve direct use of hazardous materials (radioactive, chemical, blood, body fluid, and infectious materials). The lab coat service was approved by the Health & Safety Committee and the Space and Resources Committee and there are several locations throughout the Hutch where lab coats are stored. A vendor provides weekly laundry service for all the lab coats.

Generic lab coats with Fred Hutch logos are available for laboratory employees who handle hazardous materials in the Weintraub, Hutchinson, Thomas, and PHS buildings. Personalized lab coats in these locations are not provided by EH&S. The new generic coats will be available in a range of sizes in each location. Please take only one coat as needed, and return it to the hamper when it becomes soiled. See the EH&S Lab Coat Service for more information.

6.2.1 Lab Coat Pick-up and Drop-off Locations

New lab coats are picked up and soiled coats returned to the following locations:

 

Distribution Location

Fairview

LF-260-3; 2nd floor, west corner

Hutchinson

C1M-029: First level interstitial, Building C, northwest corner, past the vending machines

PHS

E-Level Clinic: ME-B502 Fifth floor labs: Hallway next to M5-A402

Thomas

Alcove: Cross-hallway of E-level, near the west set of elevators

Weintraub

AD-115: Near the D-level elevators

6.2.2 Ordering Lab Coats

Only PHS clinic lab coat users may order new lab coats from EH&S. Fill out the Lab Coat Order Form or call in an order directly to EH&S. Please include the following with your request:

  1. Name;
  2. Employer (Fred Hutch);
  3. Mail Stop;
  4. Worksite;
  5. Extension;
  6. PI or supervisor name;
  7. Hazardous materials you work with; and
  8. Lab coat size.

Measure the widest portion of your chest and choose a lab coat 1 to 2 sizes larger, for wearing ease. The lab coats range from 34 to 54 (even sizes).

Please allow up to three weeks for delivery of your new lab coat. Contact EH&S if a loaner coat is necessary.

6.2.3 What to Do if Your Lab Coat Becomes Contaminated With . . .

  1. BL-2 agents: Place the lab coat in an autoclave bag, seal, label, and hold for EH&S pick-up.
  2. Blood, body fluids, or Risk Group 1 (BL-1) agents: Place the coat in the provided red hamper for laundering. The vendor treats all coats as though they are contaminated with any of these agents.
  3. Radioactivity: Place the lab coat in a plastic bag, seal, label, and hold for EH&S pickup.
  4. Chemical: If the chemical is sewerable and the contamination is minor, rinse with water, then place the coat in the provided red hamper for laundering. If it is gross contamination or contamination with a select carcinogen (as defined in Chapter III), place the coat in a plastic bag, seal, label, and hold for EH&S pickup.

6.3 Eye protection

As a minimum standard, safety glasses must be worn whenever handling hazardous materials.

6.3.1 Safety Glasses

Approved safety glasses are those which meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87 testing criteria. Approved glasses are marked with the number Z87 on the inside of the temple. Do not remove side shields from these glasses. Safety glasses offer good impact protection, but very limited splash protection.

6.3.2 Goggles

The eyes and face should be protected from potential splashes by conducting work with hazardous substances in a chemical fume hood.

Chemical splash goggles underneath a face shield must be worn when a chemical fume hood is not used and there is a potential for a hazardous substance to splash.

6.3.3 Contacts

If you choose to wear contacts when handling chemicals, be sure to wear safety glasses. In the event of a chemical splash to the eyes, contacts can hold the chemical against the eye prolonging the exposure and increasing eye damage.

6.4 Respiratory Protection

Lab ventilation and chemical fume hoods typically control exposure to hazardous chemicals. EH&S will medically clear, fit test, train, and issue a cartridge respirator to an employee if there is a potential for overexposure.

Do not purchase respiratory protective devices of any kind without EH&S approval. If you believe a hazardous airborne exposure condition may exist in your work area, contact EH&S.

6.5 Foot protection

Employees working in a lab must wear sturdy-soled, well-fitting shoes that cover the entire foot. Sandals, slip-ons, perforated shoes (e.g., Crocs™), and open-toe shoes are not acceptable in labs. Leather shoes are recommended.