The importance of quality raw materials for protective gloves

The importance of quality raw materials for protective gloves

Talking about protection in the workplace does not only refer to external risks from machinery, heat, sparks or dust, but also to the need to make sure that Personal Protective Equipment is totally reliable and safe for the user.

Indeed, in addition to the obligatory tests and markings to define a PPE as such, it is important to ensure that the materials used in the production of work gloves do not adversely affect the health or hygiene of the wearer. .

materials, usually fabrics or leathers, must not, under foreseeable conditions of normal use, release substances known to be toxic, toxic for reproduction, carcinogenic, mutagenic, allergenic, corrosive, sensitising or irritating.

In this regard, a concrete example is the possible presence of hexavalent chromium particles in leather used to produce protective gloves or jackets, aprons, leather sleeves worn and used for welding activities and similar processes.

Hexavalent Chromium, one of the world’s six most dangerous pollutants.

Currently, chromium and its compounds (potassium dichromate and chromic acid) continue to be used for:

  • the production and processing of steel 
  • the production of enamels and paints
  • glass colouring
  • textile production
  • the tanning of hides 


In this case, the body’s exposure to chromium VI may occur through the skin coming into direct contact with the tanned leather. 

Symptoms and signs of exposure and contact with chromium

Symptoms and signs from exposure to chromium, via the skin, respiratory tract, etc. include:

  • rashes
  • weakening of the immune system
  • respiratory problems
  • sinusitis
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • diarrhoea
  • fever
  • dizziness
  • heart failure
  • coma
  • death

Risks and effects of exposure to hexavalent chromium

The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA, 1998) has recognised the high toxicity of hexavalent chromium, classifying it as carcinogenic to humans and the environment.

The results of the studies also do not rule out a link between cancer and repeated dermal exposure, while the skin-sensitising properties of chromium VI are already established, even at a rather low concentration level. In this case, the risk is that of absorption of the substance through the skin, again affecting workers who are exposed to the substance, but also the general population, by coming into contact with tanned skin.


EN ISO 21420:2020 imposes a limit on Chromium VI in leather

This standard defines various indispensable requirements for protective gloves, among which we would like to emphasise that of Material Harmlessness. 

In particular, the standard requires tests to detect the presence of the following substances, which may be present within minimum levels 

  1. chromium VI, in all leathers, maximum limit 3 mg/kg
  2. nickel release (for metallic components) 
  3. pH value 
  4. azo dyes (applicable to all dyed leathers and fabrics) 
  5. dimethylformamide (for materials containing polyurethane)  
  6. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (applicable to rubbers and plastics)

For Coval Safety, safety comes first

day Coval is dedicated to ensuring the safety and health of all users of its PPE. Thi and makes sure to produce welding gloves and clothing from high quality raw materials: 

  1. By developing well-established partnerships with the best leather suppliers (we operate in Italy’s largest tanning district) 
  2. Implementing periodic laboratory tests to verify the harmlessness of the leather 

Contact us to learn more about our leather PPE for welding, work gloves, and professional oven gloves.