Endotoxin is a type of pyrogen and is a component of the exterior cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria and is released when the bacterium ruptures or disintegrates.

What are endotoxins?


Endotoxin is a type of pyrogen and is a component of the exterior cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria, like Ebola. Endotoxin is a toxic substance bound to the bacterial cell wall and released when the bacterium ruptures or disintegrates.1 They consist of lipopolysaccharide and lipoprotein complexes. The protein component determines its foreign (antigenic) nature; the polysaccharide component determines the antibody type that can react with the endotoxin molecule to produce an immune reaction.

Are endotoxins harmful?

Endotoxins are dangerous when entering the blood, causing fever and a wide range of other possible effects including septic shock and death.

This molecule initiates a host inflammatory response to Gram-negative bacterial infection. An adequate inflammatory response likely enhances host survival by mediating clearance of infection and bacterial toxins.

How can you prevent endotoxins with personal protective equipment (PPE)?

Healthcare workers are a strong example of people who are constantly at risk of being exposed to endotoxins.

A proper PPE practice is vital to ensure that no infectious material reaches their body system when providing patient care.

  • Donning

    PPE must be donned correctly in proper order before entry into the patient care area; PPE should not be later modified while in the patient care area. 

    The donning activities must be directly observed by a trained observer

  • During Patient Care

  • PPE must remain in place and be worn correctly for the duration of work in potentially contaminated areas

    PPE should not be adjusted during patient care. In the event of a significant splash, the healthcare worker should immediately move to the doffing area to remove PPE. The one exception is that visibly contaminated outer gloves can be changed while in the patient room and patient care can continue. Contaminated outer gloves can be disposed of in the patient room with other Ebola-associated waste. Healthcare workers should perform frequent disinfection of gloved hands using an ABHR, particularly after contact with body fluids.

    If during patient care any breach in PPE occurs (e.g., a tear develops in an outer glove, a needle stick occurs, a glove separates from the sleeve), the healthcare worker must move immediately to the doffing area to assess the exposure. The facility exposure management plan should be implemented; including correct supervised doffing and appropriate occupational health follow-up, if indicated by assessment. In the event of potential exposure, bloodborne pathogen exposure procedures must be followed in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard external icon.

  • Doffing

  • Removing used PPE is a high-risk process that requires a structured procedure, a trained observer, a doffing assistant in some situations, and a designated area for removal to ensure protection.

    PPE must be removed slowly and deliberately in the correct sequence to reduce the possibility of self-contamination or other exposure to hazardous substances.

    A stepwise process should be developed and used during training and patient care. Double-gloving provides an easy way to remove gross contamination by changing an outer glove during patient care and when removing PPE.

    How Ansell can help?

    Ansell takes pride in providing safety solutions to promote a risk-reduced work environment with our wide range of personal protective equipment. Find solutions for your safety needs with our variety of Ansell’s expansive PPE selection.

    Download donning and doffing PDF



    Back to FAQ pageContact us