Specialty chemicals are produced to serve a specific function and may be composed of a single chemical or a blend. Specialty chemicals often have an influence on the end product in the manufacturing process and are commonly used in the oil industry, agriculture, electronics, construction and consumer goods, such as detergents, perfumes and paper items. Because these blends vary depending on the application, specialty chemicals should always be handled with care, which means utilizing gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
Compared to other chemicals, specialty chemicals are typically manufactured in a batch process rather than continuous, which results in a pure product, according to the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates. Each compound may have only one or two uses, which means companies need to understand the specific chemical compounds used in their processes to select the right gloves for the job. Here are some components of specialty chemicals and the appropriate gloves for handling them:
Although iodine is elemental, compounds of this chemical often appear in specialty chemicals. Commonly used in medicines and animal feed supplements, iodine compounds may be considered specialty chemicals. Iodine is an essential nutrient, but too much exposure – 400 micrograms per day or more – has been linked to thyroid complications, according to Fox News. This condition may cause fatigue, depression and dry skin. Vinyl, nitrile and latex gloves all provide sufficient barrier protection when handling iodine.
Many printing inks contain carbon black, which is classified as a carcinogen. Ink is used for a variety of purposes, and overexposure may be risky. Latex and nitrile gloves protect the hands from printing ink.
Often found in the oil industry and automotive applications, lubricants contain mineral oils and may be carcinogenic. Nitrile gloves offer protection from this specialty chemical and are well suited for automotive applications because this glove material is highly puncture resistant and offers protection from many common engine chemicals. Latex gloves may not be suitable for automotive work because they are not resistant to petroleum-based chemicals.
Petroleum and a variety of specialty chemicals are used to manufacture different types of plastics. Nitrile gloves are also recommended for handling petroleum of up to 100 percent.
This has been AMMEX's "Not without gloves" series, where we have discussed hazardous chemicals and effective PPE for each. For more about chemical resistance and barrier protection, speak with one of our disposable glove experts.