Non-sterile examination gloves and sterile surgical gloves: Which are more sustainable?

Non-sterile examination gloves and sterile surgical gloves: Which are more sustainable?

Summary

Healthcare professionals should consider environmental sustainability when using personal protective equipment (PPE). One of the most frequently used PPE in medical settings are gloves. This study aims to quantify the environmental impact of sterile versus non-sterile gloves using the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. This study used three glove types: non-sterile gloves and sterile gloves (latex and latex-free). Sixteen different environmental impact categories were used to demonstrate the impact of each glove type. Non-sterile gloves had the least environmental impact in all categories. The two types of sterile gloves, nonlatex (synthetic rubber) and latex (natural rubber), performed similarly, although the nonlatex gloves had a greater impact on ozone depletion, mineral use, and ionising radiation. For climate change impact, sterile latex gloves were 11.6 times higher than non-sterile gloves. This study found that for both sterile type gloves (latex and nonlatex), the manufacture of the gloves contributes to the most considerable environmental impact, with an average of 64.37% for sterile latex gloves and 60.48% for nonlatex sterile gloves. Using the LCA methodology, this study quantitatively demonstrated the environmental impact of sterile versus non-sterile gloves.

Article Info

Publication History

Accepted: October 5, 2021Received in revised form: October 5, 2021Received: August 5, 2021

Publication stage

In Press Journal Pre-Proof

Identification

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2021.10.001

Copyright

© 2021 The Healthcare Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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