The disposable glove industry has a number of acronyms and definitions unique to it.  End the confusion with this simple and easy glossary of the most common glove terms.  We have put together a comprehensive listing of key terms below.  (You're welcome!).


Substances that speed up a chemical reaction. During glove manufacturing they are used to speed up the vulcanization process


Acceptable Quality Level; defined as the worst case quality level, in percentage, that is still considerd acceptable; medical grade gloves range from 1.0 – 2.5%, industrial 4.0%

Antigenic Proteins

Proteins which can stimulate the production of antibodies by the immune system, and to which the immune system will react if it is identified in the body; antigenic proteins found in natural rubber latex are known to cause latex allergies in sensitized individuals


A substance added to latex and synthetic polymers to prevent or delay deterioration of the glove by oxygen in the air


An international testing methods and standards organization whose standards have been adopted for use by the USFDA for medical glove testing

Bio Burden

The number of bacteria living on a surface before it is sterilized


The quality of not having toxic or injurious effects on the body. Medical gloves undergo animal testing to ISO 10993 standards to ensure their safety

CE Marking

Marking required for sale of medical devices within the European Union. With CE marking on a product the manufacturer ensures that the product conforms with the essential requirements of the applicable EC directives

Chemical Residue

The chemicals remaining in a glove after the manufacturing process. Can be a source of allergic contact dermatitis

Chemotherapy Glove

Specialized glove tested for use with chemotherapy drugs (ASTM D6978 or EN 374 -3). Intended use should be specific to the chemotherapy drugs tested


A process used in glove manufacturing to reduce the tackiness of the glove surface, reduce protein content and eliminate dusting powder

Clean Room Gloves

Gloves produced in controlled environments with very low levels of contaminants (i.e. dust). For use in controlled environmental clean room conditions such as pharmaceutical or electronic manufacturing

Coagulant Dipping

Process of dipping hand mold (former) into a coagulant


The addition of chemicals to liquid polymers during the manufacturing process to accelerate reactions, prevent deterioration or improve final product such as accelerators, whiteners and/or antioxidants


Damage caused by liquid chemicals, extreme heat, ozone, fatigue or other substances on the physical properties of a product. Signs of glove degradation may include softening and tackiness, brittleness, discoloration and loss of elasticity


Test to identify specific amount of antigenic proteins found in natural rubber latex products (ASTM D6499)


Measurement of the length a glove can be stretched before it breaks, measured as percent.  The higher the elongation percentage, the more stretchable the material


A toxin contained in the cell walls of some microorganisms, especially gram-negative bacteria, that is released when the bacterium dies and is broken down in the body. Fever, chills, shock and a variety of other symptoms result, depending on the particular organism and the health condition of the infected person

Extractable Proteins

Level of total proteins produced by water extraction for natural rubber latex products per ASTM D5712, expressed in micrograms or miligrams. (See also Modified Lowry)

Force-at-Break (FAB)

Measurement of the force required to break a glove when stretched, expressed in Newtons (N). The higher the number the stronger the glove. EN standards require a minimum of 6 N for examination gloves and 9 N for surgical gloves

Industrial Gloves

General purpose gloves not requiring specific barrier protection and not subject to regulatory review or approvals

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Delayed type of allergy resulting from skin contact with a specific allergen to which the person has developed a specific sensitivity. This allergic reaction can cause inflammation of the skin, rash, blisters and swelling and is typically related to the chemicals used in glove manufacturing. Categorized as Type IV Delayed Type Hypersensitivity

Latex Allergy

An immediate immune response to the proteins found in natural rubber latex.  Symptoms are urticaria or hives, itching or flushing, swelling, sneezing, runny nose, cough, wheeze, shortness of breath, chest tightness, nausea, dizziness or lightheadedness.  Categorized as Type I Immediate Hypersensitivity

Major Defects

A manufacturing defect that alters the performance, use, effectiveness or life of a product (i.e. Pinholes)

Medical-Grade Gloves

Gloves produced to higher quality and production standards and strictly regulated by US FDA, EC Directives, Health Canada and other governmental regulatory agencies. For use in medical applications requiring specific barrier protection against blood, body fluids or infectious agents

Minor Defects

A manufacturing defect mainly cosmetic in nature; typically does not alter performance (i.e. discoloration)

Modifed Lowry

Test to identify the total protein content in natural rubber latex products; expressed as X μg/dm2 (ASTM D5712)


Acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber, a synthetic polymer commonly used in medical and industrial gloves


Non-fever causing. Contains low levels of endotoxins which, when elevated, cause fever, inflammation and endotoxic shock

Particulate Count

Level of airborne particulates or contaminants present in a specified environment. Control of particulate counts are essential in critical work environments such as pharmaceutical or electronic manufacturing. (See also Clean Room Gloves)


Process of a liquid, such as a chemotherapy drug or chemical, passing through (diffusion) a solid surface, expressed as breakthrough time (BTT) or flow rate

Physical Properties

Critical performance characteristics of a glove such as tensile strength, elongation, modulus and thickness


A tiny opening (hole) in a glove allowing for the transmission of blood, chemicals, bacteria, etc. through the opening, lowering the barrier level.  Pinholes are considered a major quality defect (See also major defects and water tightness test)


Synthetic polymer with latex-like qualities, excellent chemical and abrasion resistance and good mechanical strength. Also known as neoprene


A synthetic polymer with molecular properties almost identical to natural rubber latex, providing the valued properties of latex such as tactile sensitivity and elasticity without the concerns of latex allergy


Any natural or synthetic compound of usually high molecular weight consisting of up to millions of repeated link units, each a light and simple molecule


Application of a polymer to the surface area of the glove to aid in donning. Typically polyurethane or a combination of polymers are used

Protein Content

Measurement of the amount of total or antigenic proteins contained within a natural rubber latex product. (See also ELISA and Modified Lowry)


Any substance or agent that tends to cause a rise in body temperature (fever) such as some bacterial toxins. (See also Endotoxins)


Sterility Assurance Level used to describe the probability of a single unit being non-sterile after it has been subjected to the sterilization process. Sterile medical gloves require a SAL of 10.6

Shelf Life

Defined period of time during which a product shows little to no deterioration or degradation and remains usable for its intended purpose


Process of killing all forms of microbial life by heat, ethylene oxide gas or gamma irradiation


Process of removing the glove from the mold (former) and turned inside out

Surgical Glove

Specialized glove produced on anatomical molds (formers) for better fit, more precise sizing and greater comfort and tactile sensitivity for delicate procedures and manufactured to higher quality standards than medical exam gloves. Surgical gloves are sterilized to prevent contamination of the surgical site

Synthetic Rubber

Polymer produced with chemicals and not containing natural rubber latex (i.e. nitrile, polychloroprene or polyisoprene)

Tactile Sensitivity

The degree to which an object can be distinguished by the sense of touch. Typically thinner gloves have higher tactile sensitivity, a critical feature for surgical gloves

Tensile Strength

Measurement of the force required to break a material when stretched, expressed in megapascals (Mpa).  The higher the number the stronger the glove


The measurement of the depth of a glove surface, expressed as mil or millimeter (mm). The higher the number the thicker the glove and a higher level of protection

Viral Penetration

The ability of a virus to pass through a surface (ASTM F1671)


Process of converting liquid polymer to a strengthened gel film using heat or chemicals (also known as curing)

Water Tight Test

Test used to measure gloves for pinholes. Glove is filled with specified volume of water and must maintan water tightness for defined period of time (ASTM D5151, EN455-1)