DECONTAMINATION GLOVES





These heavy rubber gloves were essentially a legacy of the First World War. After an attack with mustard gas (or Yperite as is was also known) all equipment that came into contact with this product had to be decontaminated. The reason for this is because mustard gas isn't really a gas, it's a liquid that has been transformed into a mist of very tiny droplets and because of this the Yperite has the tendency to contaminate an area or anything else it comes into contact with. Therefore one could find barrels across the battlefields filled with a bleach solution that neutralized the contamination. Mustard gas is very dangerous, it causes blistering of the skin and if inhaled you get internal blistering which is almost always fatal. The skin blisters have the reputation to heal very slowly and chances on infections are great. Some varieties of this gas also had a delaying effect meaning that one could get contaminated without knowing and effects could emerge hours after the initial exposure. So it was of the utmost importance for the soldiers to get all their stuff decontaminated. The gloves were put on and could be used to "wash" all items in the decontamination barrels. The gloves themselves are in the typical brown pebbled vulcanized rubber but the maker codes are a bit of a mystery. At this moment it's unknown who made them. The Author has 2 pairs and both carry a different maker code, so at least 2 companies have made them but there could be more. The gloves were only intended for military use but were probably only issued to special decontamination units, it's not an item the regular soldier carried around. The whole setup was kind of clumsy, there were no individual fingers except for the thumb, this makes picking up something hard, furthermore the rubber is quite thick making the gloves less flexible. The gloves seems to have been made in only 1 size.




The gloves today

These gloves are not common, they turn up from time to time on Belgian military fairs but that's about it, don't expect them to turn up anywhere else soon. The prices are in general low, they are not very popular and most dealers are glad to get rid of them. Very few know what they really are which makes it ideal for collectors who do know what they are dealing with. The condition is in general pretty good, the thick vulcanized rubber is not very prone to deterioration. It's a challenge to get both known makers but there could be more so always check the maker codes when encountered. They are rare enough to buy them if the price and condition is right, especially because of their low pricing. Make sure you have a pair with matching maker codes, finding a sperate glove is nearly impossible. Don't worry about sizes, there is only 1 size made.