Nitrile: A Brief History

A latex sensitivity or latex allergy can be anywhere from uncomfortable to fatal depending upon the person with whom the latex has come in contact.  For patients with a latex sensitivity or latex allergy, the combination of injury or illness, and latex hospital products like latex exam gloves, can prove deadly.  As a healthcare practitioner with a latex sensitivity, the daily contact with latex exam gloves and other latex medical supplies can severely compromise one’s level of health.  An ill practitioner does no one any good.  To rectify this issue, alternate materials for exam gloves and other products have been developed.  One of the most successful is Nitrile.

First synthesized in the late 1700s by C.W. Scheele, nitrile it was not until almost 60 years later that nitrile was synthesized in such a way as to be easily researchable.  Hermann Fehling added heated ammonium benzoate to the mix, and nitrile was born.  Since then, the compound has become intrinsic to the medical field, and is present in everything from nitrile exam gloves, to breast cancer medication, to anti-diabetic drugs.

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