ORIGINAL ARTICLES

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Ann Agric Environ Med 1998, 5, 45-56

QUANTIFICATION OF SURFACE DEFECTS ON CHEMICALLY
PROTECTIVE GLOVES FOLLOWING THEIR USE IN AGRICULTURE

Kathleen M. Canning, Wieslaw Jablonski, Peter B. McQuillan

School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

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Canning KM, Jablonski W, McQuillan PB: Quantification of surface defects on chemically protective gloves following their use in agriculture. Ann Agric Environ Med 1998, 5, 45-56.

Abstract: Chemically protective gloves are one of the most widely used barriers against hand exposure to pesticide contamination available to workers in primary industry. Polyvinyl chloride and nitrile butadiene rubber gloves were collected from four typical agricultural enterprises in Tasmania. Surface images of new and used gloves, up to 1000 magnification, were obtained from an environmental scanning electron microscope and were used to classify defects, such as cracks, crazes, cavities, convexities, smooth areas and slumps. Some defects, e.g. cracks, were related to the working life of the gloves, whereas others, e.g. slumps, were associated with the manufacturing process. After viewing, the gloves were analysed by X-ray energy-dispersive spectroscopy. Phosphorus and sulfur peaks were indicative of pesticide retention. Rinsates from the interior of used polyvinyl chloride gloves were analysed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Pesticide traces were found suggesting inadequate protection against dermal exposure. It is concluded that these gloves were unable to withstand the rigours of agricultural work because of the nature of the surface defects and they were contaminated with pesticides, outside and inside. Thus, their management needs improvement.

Address for correspondence: Dr Peter B. McQuillan, School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-78, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia. E-mail: P.B.McQuillan@utas.edu.au

Key words: chemically protective gloves (PVC, NBR), electron microscopy, image analysis, X-ray microanalysis, GC-MS, pesticide exposure, agricultural workers.