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Correspondence and Brief Communications
January 2001

A Call to Ban Glove Cornstarch

Arch Surg. 2001;136(1):116. doi:

After publishing Medicine's Deadly Dust,1 we convinced the University of Virginia Medical Center at Charlottesville to abandon the use of powdered gloves in favor of powder-free gloves. Scientific and clinical studies have conclusively documented that cornstarch glove powder promotes injury to body tissue. In addition, cornstarch binds with the soluble latex proteins and serves as a vector for the latex allergy epidemic. Our glove selection process was based on measurements of glove leakage rates as well as surgeons' evaluations of glove biomechanical performance during surgery. Muto et al2 related the glove leakage rates to latex content rather than the presence of powder. Because the manufacturing process for powder-free gloves removes the soluble latex proteins, these gloves exhibit a lower latex content than powdered ones. In the study's large sample size, a higher leakage rate was demonstrated in the high-latex powdered gloves than in the low-latex powder-free gloves. Nevertheless, some low-latex powder-free gloves and nonlatex gloves performed satisfactorily in the American Society for Testing and Materials water leakage test. Surgeons found that the biomechanical performance of the low-leakage powder-free gloves had either a superior or acceptable performance compared with powdered ones. As a result of these studies, this type of powder-free glove has been used exclusively in our hospital for the last 3 years. Recognizing the dangers of cornstarch powder, over 100 hospitals use solely powder-free gloves. The successful use of powder-free gloves should serve as a catalyst for the US Food and Drug Administration to ban glove cornstarch.