The vinyl or polyethylene gloves contain microspheres that release chlorine dioxide, a water-soluble gas used to disinfect drinking water and processed foods. Chlorine dioxide can destroy a variety of microorganisms, including E. coli, staphylococcus and salmonella, reducing the risk of the glove-wearer transmitting bacteria encountered in medical or food-handling work.
Infusing materials with chlorine dioxide to reduce the numbers of dangerous microorganisms is a concept that could be extremely helpful to a number of industries, according to Dr. Michael Barza, author of the study. "To me, the most interesting thing about this technology is that it is really a 'platform' technology that could be applied to control of infection in many other circumstances besides gloves and hands," he said. "For example, it could be used in the food industry, including supermarkets, delis and fast food markets." Other medical devices, such as vascular and urinary catheters, if made with the gas-emitting microspheres, could prevent infections that might endanger already vulnerable patients, he added.
Another benefit of the chlorine dioxide-impregnated gloves (which should not cost significantly more than regular gloves) is that they won't lead to the advent of "super-germs" as antibacterial soaps and cleaners can. "A nice characteristic of chlorine dioxide is that it does not breed resistance among microorganisms and has an incredibly broad spectrum of activity against viruses, bacteria and fungi," said Dr. Barza.