Identification of suitable chemical protective gloves for use with oils containing PCBs

Project No. IFA 3123


completed 06/2012


Since end-of-life transformers and capacitors containing oils which in turn contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) cannot be disposed of without manual work, the workers involved must wear chemical protective gloves. At present, insufficient information is available on protective gloves suitable for use during the handling of these substances. The aim of this project was to identify protective gloves suitable for the work described.


A range of glove materials (nitrile and butyl rubber, fluoroelastomer, polychloroprene and laminates) were tested with regard to their barrier action against PCBs. An oil containing PCBs and obtained from end-of-life transformers was used for this purpose. The automated permeation method developed in the course of IFA Project 3108, "Permeation of substance mixtures", served as the test method.


Since testing was not performed in accordance with standards, the results are suitable only for comparison of the gloves with each other.
Besides the homologous series of PCBs (dichlorobiphenyl, trichlorobiphenyl, tetrachlorobiphenyl), chlorobenzenes (dichlorobenzene, trichlorobenzene, tetrachlorobenzene, pentachlorobenzene) were also detected.
The following conclusions can be drawn from the results:

- Where a mixture containing PCBs also contains substances capable of permeating a material, the latter substances may also enable the PCBs to permeate it. The study showed this to be the case for chlorobenzenes.
- Should such substances be present only in small quantities or not at all, PCBs will in all probability not be able to permeate through the glove material.
- The material with the greatest resistance was nitrile rubber with a thickness of at least 0.45 mm. Thin disposable nitrile gloves are not suitable for this application.
- Materials of greater thickness (> 0.7 mm) may prevent the permeation of PCBs even if penetrated by chlorobenzenes. This is however not a general rule and depends upon the material concerned.

Last Update:

11 Mar 2013


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)

waste management

Type of hazard:

dangerous substances


Persönliche Schutzausrüstung, Chemische Arbeitsstoffe, Schutzmaßnahme

Description, key words:

polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs, chemical protective gloves, transformer, capacitor