With disposable gloves produced in such massive quantities, and because some test methods ultimately render the glove unusable, testing every glove would be impossible. Instead, glove manufacturers rely on a statistical measure for determining quality called Acceptable Quality Level or AQL.
AQL tests a small but representative sample of product to make an assumption on the quality of the entire lot. For example instead of testing a lot of 100,000 gloves, under AQL protocol, only 200 gloves would be tested. Of these 200 gloves, if the number of gloves failing to meet quality standards exceeds the AQL, the entire lot is rejected.
Lower AQL levels typically equate to higher quality. An AQL of 2.5, for example, requires that gloves be manufactured with no more than 25 failures for every 1000 gloves produced. While the AQL is usually indicative of the failure rate for the entire lot, however, rarely are these two numbers equal since only a sample of product is tested.
AQL is used in both ASTM and FDA disposable glove performance specifications (see table below), as well as for quality assurance of countless other products.