In order to make sure these standards are met, glove manufacturers have put into place a variety of strict quality control measures that allow them to test whether or not gloves are meeting the specifications and requirements from the FDA.
One of the easiest ways for you, the consumer, to see the results of these stringent tests is by looking on the package or box of gloves you purchase for the AQL. The AQL stands for the Acceptable Quality Level. This piece of information will be displayed as a percentage. In this case, the lower the percentage, the better quality of glove you have purchased. For example, if the AQL is listed as 3.4 that means that 3.4 out of every 100 gloves will fail the quality test.
How do Manufacturers Determine AQL?
Here is an example of the process that manufacturers go through to determine the AQL of their gloves. If they are producing 10,000 gloves from the same material and using the same settings and processes, they’ll have 200 gloves pulled from the production line, randomly. In order to meet an acceptable 2.5 AQL, no more than 10 gloves could fail the quality test. In the chance that more than 10 gloves do fail the test, then the entire batch has effectively failed and must be discarded unless each glove is tested for quality individually.
While there are numerous tests that disposable gloves go through to ensure quality, one very common one is the “watertight” test. This test is designed to check gloves for pinholes that could impair quality. To perform this test, each glove is filled with 1000 ml of room temperature water and hung vertically for 2 minutes. If no water escapes from the glove, it passes the test.
While shopping for disposable gloves, you should know that the current maximum AQL allowed by the FDA for disposable exam gloves is 2.5%. Some glove manufacturers even go beyond and strive to keep their gloves at an AQL of 1.5%, which means they produce a higher quality glove.