Global Supply Shortage of Nitrile Raw Material

Demand for single-use examination gloves more than doubled as a result of COVID-19 and is expected to exceed supply through at least the end of the calendar year 2021, even after an effective vaccine is widely available. We estimate global demand for single-use gloves at 585 billion pieces, but the raw material used to make nitrile gloves (NBR) is constrained at a maximum of 214 billion pieces. As a result, many manufacturers are switching production lines to natural rubber latex (NRL) to maximize capacity.


Natural Rubber Latex

Natural rubber latex (NRL), is poised for expanded growth. NRL is a renewable resource that comes from rubber trees.

Key advantages of NRL gloves include the following:

  • Latex gloves biodegrade faster than many other gloves made from synthetic polymers
  • NRL has long been the benchmark for fit and feel, comfort, and strong barrier protection
  • Latex gloves offer a high degree of touch sensitivity and dexterity, essential for healthcare workers


Natural rubber latex (NRL) gloves on an assembly line. The gloves are moving toward a dusty blue bath intended to reduce the latex protein content and chemical residue to minimize allergenic effects.

Latex Protein Reduction

Research has identified 15 of 250 proteins found in NRL as allergens. Although latex allergens can never be completely removed from gloves manufactured from NRL, Ansell takes steps during the glove manufacturing process to reduce the latex protein content and chemical residue to minimize allergenic effects. All of our test data complies with FDA requirements for maximum latex protein content per ASTM D5712. We monitor and work to minimize the latex protein content of our gloves to provide superior quality NRL hand protection.


A dentist examining a patient's mouth is the focus of the image. We see only the hands of an assistant aiding the doctor. The dentist and assistant are both wearing natural colored NRL (natural rubber gloves).

Protocols for Clinicians When Choosing Latex Gloves

NRL gloves should not be used with healthcare workers or patients with known latex allergies. Management protocols for latex allergy should be in place at all times. These protocols should include risk identification, actions to protect patients and staff, exposure prevention, and treatments for allergic reactions.

Clinicians should take the following steps:

  • Evaluate both staff and patients for their risk of latex allergy based on medical history
  • Create guidelines to create a latex-safe environment, including clearly marking products containing latex and posting latex allergy alert signs
  • Educate management and staff about latex allergy risks, prevention, and treatment
  • Develop an emergency preparedness plan for adverse patient or staff reactions, should they occur


For more information, please reach out to your Burkhart Account Manager or Customer Service 1.800.562.8176.

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Category: Merchandise

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