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How to protect your skin when working with adhesives

Adhesives and sealants contain a variety of chemicals some of which can cause skin irritation, dermatitis or sensitization.  Although some chemicals are more prone to cause skin issues, other chemicals that are considered safe – can affect certain individuals.

Protect yourself from chemical exposure, and if you are the employer, it is in your best interest to require your employees to protect themselves.  Skin diseases from chemical contact in the workplace cost millions of dollars each year.

Personal Protection Tips – Basic personal protection from adhesives includes wearing the right gloves and washing your hands with soap and water.  Following are two substitutions in PPE that can do more harm than good.

  1. Nitrile gloves are a good choice for most adhesive products. Choose a size that is comfortable as nitrile gloves don’t have the same amount of stretch as latex gloves.  I know latex gloves can be more comfortable and provide more dexterity but do not use latex gloves.  Latex gloves are not a good barrier to many chemicals found in adhesive products.  Wearing latex gloves can actually do more harm than good as the chemicals leach through the gloves and are trapped against the skin.
  1. Wash with soap and water – do not use solvents on your skin. Many factories have anti-bacterial stations at every corner. Whether it is the hand sanitizing gel or the hand sanitizing wipes; these both contain alcohol which will open the skin and drive whatever chemical you are trying to wash off your hands into your skin.  I realize how tempting it is as these hand sanitizing stations are likely closer than the nearest sink – but please – opt for the good old fashioned soap and water.

Should you have any questions about appropriate PPE for the adhesives or chemicals you are working with, refer to the SDS or contact the manufacturer.