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The Glovebox (or ‘Glove Box’) Provides Containment for a Range of Applications

Glovebox is the general term used to describe a sealed chamber that allows the operator to handle hazardous materials or agents having an unknown risk level. These units provide a controlled environment for working with samples while physically separating personnel from the materials they are manipulating. According to The American Glovebox Society (AGS), “The earliest use of gloveboxes was in research dealing with national defense. The necessity of handling hazardous materials with sometimes unknown properties created the need for an enclosure that would separate the experimenter from the process, while still allowing the experiment to be performed.”

Gloveboxes serve the needs of a diverse range of industries. For example, the glove box is often utilized in biotechnology, biomedical, nuclear, defense, pharmaceutical, semiconductor and chemical applications. When these enclosures are used for microbiological research or to handle pathogens, they are referred to as Class III Biological Safety Cabinets. These units provide containment for work with high-risk biological agents and must be constructed in compliance with the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) specifications. These specifications are available on the CDC website.

Glove Selection for the Glovebox

The glovebox typically is equipped with arm-length gloves, which are connected to the unit via glove ports that should be engineered for a completely sealed connection. This ensures that there will not be a break in containment. It is imperative that the glove ports are positioned at an ergonomically correct angle to enhance user comfort and prevent fatigue. Gloves can be fabricated from a variety of materials, including neoprene rubber, butyl rubber, and hypalon. The glove selection process should be based on risk assessment and the needs for your specific application. Considerations include chemical permeability, dexterity requirements, and the types of procedures being conducted, such as handling sharps or working with animals. It is important to make the proper selection as gloves vary in thickness and size which can impact dexterity and level of protection.

The Glovebox in Mobile Applications

Often custom-engineered for effective integration of laboratory instruments, systems and components. In recent years, technological advancements have been developed that allow these systems to be effectively installed in mobile labs including trucks and vans. Germfree has pioneered the use of commercially available mobile labs with integrated gloveboxes. These units are ideal for providing a rapid response to potential public health or security events. The glovebox is utilized to contain dangerous samples or materials having an unknown risk level. Additionally, first responders can deploy units equipped for CBRN detection and on-site threat assessment.

The Portable Glovebox

Germfree also manufactures a complete line of units that are transportable as well as systems for field use. Transportable systems are often utilized for animal transport within a research facility. Germfree also introduced the first field-deployable portable Class III glovebox. These enclosures provide many options to contain potentially hazardous materials. Units may be equipped with double HEPA exhaust filtration systems as well as ASZM-TEDA charcoal filters.

The Class III Glovebox is also an important component in many laboratory response networks (LRN) as well as all hazard receipt facilities. Gloveboxes are utilized in a wide range of research applications and integrated into facilities having the highest levels of biological safety. For example, Germfree has manufactured many Class III BSCs that currently operate in BSL-4 laboratories. These units are ideal for many critical operations that require any combination of protection for personnel, product and the environment while handling potentially dangerous materials.

For more information please visit our Glovebox section.

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