Repeated Bleach Sanitization Effects on Medical Exam Glove Mechanical Properties
Since the mass outbreak of COVID-19 globally, the unique challenges of the pandemic have demanded the global economy, governments, and scientific community adapt in unprecedented ways. Despite pre-existing federal stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE) in countries such as the United States, rising shortages and resource constraints have compounded the complexity of curbing the spread of the pandemic and treating patients. To face such shortages, healthcare workers in different parts
... of the world have been reusing PPE, especially personal protective gloves, and possibly sanitizing them through more cost-effective means such as a simple bleach and water solution. To preserve current and future PPE resources, this study investigates the effect of repeated diluted bleach treatment on mechanical properties of representative gloves to determine if reuse is an acceptable practice. This study aims to determine how bleach sanitization may affect material degradation of gloves when used in working environments. To this end, tensile tests were performed on elastomeric exam gloves with and without bleach sanitization treatments. Control data were prepared for both non-conditioned and humidity conditioned glove samples. Additional glove samples were subjected to ten repetitions of bleach exposure as outlined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention US (CDC US) guidelines. Subsequently, all glove samples were tensile tested, and mechanical properties were determined. A statistically significant (p ≤ 0.05) loss of stiffness was observed for some of the tested samples, ranging as high as a 90% loss in stiffness. This research could serve to inform medical professionals as to whether sanitization through bleach treatments is acceptable and if so, at how many repetitions this treatment could potentially compromise the glove's ability to function as intended.