avis/advies 9542

The use of nitrile undergloves under regular firefighters’ gloves as a protective measure against carcinogenic exposure in fires

In this scientific advisory report, which offers guidance to public health policy-makers, the Superior Health Council of Belgium provides a brief overview of occupational hazards for firefighters and recommendations on the possible use of nitrile butadiene rubber gloves to reduce exposure to carcinogenic substances.

In short
All fire-fighter gloves on the Belgian market are safe for use.

  • As regards textile gloves, the Superior Health Council recommends thorough cleaning after each intervention (according to European guidelines).
  • Leather gloves are harder to clean. The Superior Health Council therefore considers it acceptable to use nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) undergloves.
    • In practice, the increased risk of serious burn wounds due to NBR rarely occurs, whilst these undergloves do provide additional protection against the risk of long-term exposure to carcinogenic substances.
    • NBR undergloves must never come into direct contact with hot surfaces, but must always be completely covered by firefighter gloves.
    • The possibility of cleaning leather gloves with liquid CO2 should be further investigated.