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Gloves and cytotoxic drugs

Am I using the right glove for protecting myself and the product?

With worldwide cancer rates expected to continue increasing and cytotoxic drugs being at the forefront of our defence for tackling this disease, safety concerns regarding the preparation and handling of antineoplastic agents are likely to grow. The hazardous nature of cytotoxic drugs is widely acknowledged with studies based primarily on animals leading the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify some chemotherapy drugs as possibly carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic.

SHIELD Scientific through its regular seminar programmes and articles in relevant publications has been actively educating users on best practice when handling cytostatics. Perhaps not surprisingly operators potentially exposed to chemotherapy drugs are increasingly opting for only those nitrile gloves that have been tested according to ASTM D6978-05. Not only is this standard specifically designed for healthcare workers exposed to chemotherapy drugs, but it is hundred times more sensitive than the European equivalent test (EN 16523-1:2015 supersedes EN 374-3:2003).  For a quick comparison of these two standards, the table below may be helpful:

Comparison ASTM D6978-05 EN 16523-1:2015
(formerly EN 374-3:2003)
Test Temperature 35º C (+/- 2º C) 23º C (+/- 1º C)
Permeation rate 0.01 µg/cm² /min 1.0 µg/cm²/min
Scope Resistance against cytotoxic drugs Resistance against chemicals in general
Test time 240 minutes 480 minutes
Test chemicals cytotoxic drugs – 7 are defined and 2 additional chemicals to be selected by test house. 12 standard chemicals detailed in EN 374-1:2003, with no mention of cytotoxic drugs. Thus no specific guidance is given on the selection of cytotoxic drugs.
Area of glove that needs to be tested

Palm or cuff whichever is the thinnest part of the glove & outer side of glove (i.e. that which is in contact with chemical).


Palm area for gloves of homogenous design. Outer surface to be in contact with chemical.

SHIELD Scientific nitrile gloves, laboratory gloves and cleanroom gloves that have been tested according to ASTM D6978-05 and for which test reports are available on request are as follows:


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Categorised in: Glove education


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