The DMF glove issue

The Dimethylformamide (DMF) Glove issue

Gloves that act like a second skin provide unparalleled levels of dexterity, flexibility and ergonomics. These types of lightweight knitted/dipped gloves have evolved within the last decade from mere safety products to enhancing any level of industrial performance.

With this newfound wider acceptance, they have aided in the reduction of minor injuries leading many companies to see them as a worthy investment to reduce related costs.

Within one of the largest markets for gloves, the lightweight assembly market, people have been using the solvent-based white polyurethane glove.

Like other knitted and dipped gloves, these are made using a hand mould which is dipped into a tank.  With the use of polyurethane and an additional solvent called DIMETHYLFORMAMIDE (DMF) a chemical reaction is created which sees the polyurethane expand to encapsulate itself around the knitted liner of the glove, usually in the palm area only.

But there are issues for people using this type of glove given the inclusion of DMF.

The DMF issue

The issues in the use of the solvent-based polyurethane glove relate to the health effects of inhalation and dermal(skin) contact with DMF for those who use this glove.

There are clear guidelines as to how long people should be exposed to DMF and more importantly, the specific levels of exposure. These are more commonly referred to as occupational exposure limits or OEL’s which classify long-term exposure in the region of eight hours per day where exposure should not exceed 10 parts per million and short-term exposure in the region of 15 minutes per day where exposure should not exceed 20 parts per million.

What does DMF do to the human body?

The scientific evidence is inconclusive regarding the effect and the magnitude of DMF on humans, as these gloves have only been used industrially for the last decade. However, laboratory animal research can shine some cautionary light on guidelines for human usage.

In the laboratory animal, chronic exposure has shown reproductive and fetal effects.  When used on a regular and acute basis, the absorption of DMF through the skin may cause dermatological issues, liver problems, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

We at Radar Gloves feel that the risk of wearing contaminated gloves with very high levels of DMF over a standard working shift can be significant. If you use these types of gloves, take note that the necessary testing and safeguards are put into place to ensure that the levels of parts million within these gloves fall within the OEL’s of 10 ppm for eight hours and 20 ppm for 15 minutes.

What glove should I use for lightweight assembly applications?

We recommend nitrile gloves. There are many offering a high degree of flexibility with good mechanical strength. You can find them easily using the Radar Gloves search engine tool (see the demo) and entering the following criteria:

 Abrasion  3
 Cut  3
 Dexterity  High
 Flexibility  High
 Sweat Management    High

As a further safeguard that the glove is skin safe, look for products tested to the Oeko-Tex global 100 standard which guarantees that there are no harmful chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Manufacturers such as ATG, Comasec/Marigold and Uvex Profas all offer gloves certified to the Oeko-Tex standard.

Useful sites (Oeko-Tex certified products) (Oeko-Tex certified products) (Oeko-Tex certified products)

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