'Selecting the right gloves' seminars
Minister opens 'Selecting the right gloves' seminar in London

Two key seminars were held on 'Selecting the right gloves - Glove selection for healthcare and PPE', in London on Friday 11th March and in Edinburgh on Monday 14th March.

Altogether, more than 150 delegates, including occupational health professionals, purchasers and users, glove manufacturers and distributors, raw materials suppliers, and academic and scientific experts participated in the discussions on this important topic.

The seminars were organized by the Malaysian Export Promotion Council (MREPC) and the UK research centre of the Malaysian Rubber Board, the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC), assisted by the UK’s Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI).

On Friday 11th March, at the Landmark Hotel in London, the Hon. Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, YB Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui opened the event with the Keynote Address. The MREPC’s CEO, Dato’ Teo Suat Cheng provided the welcome introduction. Mike Kreuzer OBE, Director of Regulation Priority for the ABHI, gave a short presentation on the UK’s Healthcare Industries Task Force, HITF, and illustrated how it will affect all sectors of the healthcare industry.

Datuk Peter Chin remarked on the good attendance, particularly from the healthcare sector, saying that it “… reflects the significance government and regulatory officials, health-care professionals, procurers, researchers and service providers place in this seminar.” On the importance of selecting the right gloves, he said, “…the single most important criterion in glove selection is barrier protection, as defined by all users, including physicians, dentists, medical and non-medical workers and researchers. The other criteria are strength, fit and comfort, that is, the ability for the glove to stretch, remain soft, and conform to the hand. Other important requirements include tactile sensitivity, the ability to grip things well, and the ease of donning. ….it is widely acknowledged that NR latex gloves are unsurpassed in their range of properties. "

During the seminars, experts from Germany, Finland, Malaysia and the UK examined the scientific evidence on the use of natural rubber latex gloves and latex allergy to address the important issues in glove selection for healthcare and personal protective equipment.

The question and answer sessions provided some lively discussion on issues such as the manufacturing changes alleged to have increased allergen content; whether there may be transfer of proteins to medical devices during handling with latex gloves. Delegates also asked the speakers whether gloves should be powder free, or low protein/allergen or both and made reference to work on barrier properties of vinyl and latex gloves.

Questions were also raised about measurement of protein content vs allergen content and the identification of allergens; the use of powdered gloves worldwide; threshold limits for protein and allergen levels; how to differentiate between sensitized vs allergic persons and allergic responses to synthetic products.

The speakers reached a consensus on the following points:

  • Natural rubber latex gloves still provide the best combination of properties for gloves used in healthcare.
  • ‘Powder free’ is a simple message which has been shown to work in Germany
  • ‘Low allergen’ is a more sophisticated approach, which has worked in Finland, but the current test method is expensive and not yet universally accepted for this purpose.
  • Neverthless, data is available to show which gloves are likely to be lowest in protein and allergens.
  • People who are not sensitized can work with good quality (low protein/low allergen, powder free gloves) and not become sensitized.
  • Already sensitized staff and patients need latex-free gloves.
  • Changing to synthetic gloves is not a panacea – new allergic reactions can emerge and not all gloves are suitable for all tasks. New risks can be introduced, particularly regarding barrier protection.

As a result of the interest and feedback from delegates who attended the seminars, it has been suggested that the organizers should consider making this subject matter the focus of future events. If you missed out on the opportunity to attend on this occasion, but would like to receive further information, please contact us.



© Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre 2005
Wednesday 16th March, 2005