Skin protection against nanoparticles

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Given the needs identified in respect to skin protection and the fact that very little research is being undertaken elsewhere in the area, studies have been initiated thanks to the combined support from the IRSST and Nano-Québec for the development of a method for measuring the effectiveness of the protection offered by protective gloves against nanoparticles under conditions simulating use in the workplace.

The works includes the design and manufacture of an experimental device allowing glove samples to be exposed to nanoparticles (in powder and colloidal solution form) while simultaneously subjecting them to static or dynamic deformations and to conditions simulating the microclimate within the gloves. The device is connected to a data control and acquisition system. To complete the method, a sampling protocol was developed and a series of nanoparticle detection techniques selected. Using this method, preliminary tests were carried out to measure the resistance provided by four protective nitrile, latex, neoprene and butyl rubber glove models with different thicknesses, to commercial TiO2 nanoparticles (in powder and colloidal form).

The results seem to point to possible penetration of nanoparticles into certain types of gloves, particularly when they are subjected to repeated mechanical deformations and when the nanoparticles are in colloidal solution form. These results illustrate how important this problem is and how much further research is needed in this area.

Future work that could be undertaken will benefit from the fact that several teams around the world with an interest in protection equipment against nanoparticles are ready to work together and share their expertise.