Stop Latex Now sign now

This petition is to stop the use of latex in the places it is commonly used like restaurants, hospitals, doctors offices, etc. Millions of people world wide have allergies to latex and therefore can not be exposed to it. In some cases exposure to latex can even be deadly.

FAQ About latex and latex allergies:

What is latex?

Natural rubber latex comes from a liquid in tropical rubber trees. This liquid is processed to make many of the following rubber products used at home and at work:

* Balloons

* Rubber toys

* Pacifiers and baby-bottle nipples

* Rubber bands

* Adhesive tape and bandages

* Diapers and sanitary pads

* Condoms

In addition, many medical and dental supplies contain latex, including gloves, urinary catheters, dental dams and material used to fill root canals, as well as tourniquets and equipment for resuscitation. Non-latex substitutes can be found for all of these latex-containing items.

What is latex allergy?

The protein in rubber can cause an allergic reaction in some people. The thin, stretchy latex rubber in gloves, condoms and balloons is high in this protein. It causes more allergic reactions than products made of hard rubber (like tires). Also, because some latex gloves are coated with cornstarch powder, the latex protein particles stick to the cornstarch and fly into the air when the gloves are taken off. In places where gloves are being put on and removed frequently, the air may contain many latex particles.


Type 1

The most serious and rare form, type 1 is an immediate and potentially life-threatening reaction, not unlike the severe reaction some people have to bee stings. Such reactions account for a significant proportion of postoperative anaphylactic reaction, especially in children with Myelomeningocele.

Type 4

Also known as allergic contact dermatitis. This involves a delayed skin rash that is similar to poison ivy with blistering and oozing of the skin. This type is caused by chemicals used in the processing of rubber products.

Irritant contact dermatitis

The most common type of reaction. This causes dry, itchy, irritated areas on the skin, most often on the hands. It can be caused by the irritation of using gloves, or it can also be caused by exposure to other workplace products. Frequent washing of the hands, incomplete drying, exposure to hand sanitizers, and the talc-like powder coatings (zinc oxide, etc) used with gloves can aggravate symptoms. Irritant contact dermatitis is not a true allergy.

Testing for type 1 natural rubber latex allergy is through blood testing, such as RAST (radioallergosorbent test) identifies what types of IgE proteins trigger allergic reactions. While the standard for allergen testing is the skin prick test, there is no approved skin testing reagent for latex in the United States at this time. Some other countries do have approved skin testing reagents for natural rubber latex. Some people who are allergic to latex are also allergic to clothes, shoes and other things that contain natural rubber latex - for example elastic bands, rubber gloves, condoms, pacifiers and baby-bottle nipples, balloons, cars and clothing containing natural rubber based elastic. Synthetic elastic such as elastane or neoprene do not contain the proteins that trigger type 1 reactions. Type 1 natural rubber latex allergy is caused from IgE (immune) mediated reactions to proteins found in the hevea brasiliensis tree, a type of rubber tree. Synthetic latex products do not contain the proteins from the hevea brasiliensis tree and will not cause this type of reaction.

Type 4 reactions are caused by the chemicals used to process the rubber. Patch testing needs to be done to verify which type of chemical triggers the reaction. Once the chemical is identified, then the person can choose products that are not processed with that chemical. Both natural rubber and synthetic rubber products may cause type 4 reactions.

What are the symptoms of latex allergy?

Latex allergy can be mild or severe, with symptoms such as:

* Itchy, red, watery eyes

* Sneezing or runny nose

* Coughing

* Rash or hives

* Chest tightness and shortness of breath

* Shock

Some people who wear latex gloves get bumps, sores, cracks or red, raised areas on their hands. These symptoms usually appear 12 to 36 hours after contact with latex. Changing to non-latex gloves, using glove liners, and paying more attention to hand care can help relieve these symptoms.

A latex-sensitive person can also have a life-threatening allergic reaction with no previous warning or symptoms.

Who is at risk for latex allergy?

Latex products are everywhere. Anyone can become allergic to latex.

Those at greatest risk

* Children with myelomeningocele (also known as Spina bifida). Between 40\% to 100\% will have a reaction.

* Industrial rubber workers, exposed for long periods to high amounts of latex. About 10\% have an allergic reaction.

* Healthcare workers. Given the ubiquitous use of latex products in health care settings, management of latex allergy presents significant health organizational problems. Latex allergies are becoming more common among doctors, as they have regular and prolonged exposure to latex, mostly examination gloves. Between about 4\% to 15\% of healthcare workers have a reaction, although this is usually Irritant Contact Dermatitis, rather than an allergy.

* People who have had multiple surgical procedures, especially in childhood.

Estimates of latex sensitivity in the general population range from 0.8\% to 6.5\%, although not all will ever develop a noticeable allergic reaction

Is there a connection between latex allergy and foods?

Because some proteins in rubber are similar to food proteins, some foods may cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to latex. The most common of these foods are banana, avocado, chestnut, kiwi fruit and tomato. Although many other foods can cause an allergic reaction, avoiding all of them might cause nutrition problems. Therefore, it's recommended that you avoid only the foods that have already given you an allergic reaction.

What should I do if I find out I have a latex allergy?

Although there is no treatment for latex allergy, you can reduce your risk of reaction by avoiding direct contact with latex. Take steps to find out which products in your environment contain latex. Then, find substitutes you can use for those products. It's also important to avoid breathing in latex particles from powdered gloves.

If you are a health care worker or a patient, everyone around you should wear powder-free latex gloves or non-latex gloves. If you are a health care worker, compare different kinds of non-latex gloves to find the ones that are best for you.

Always wear or carry a medical alert bracelet, necklace or keychain that warns emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and doctors that you are allergic to latex. Talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for an epinephrine self-injection pen, to use in case of a serious reaction. You may wish to carry non-latex gloves with you all the time for use by emergency personnel if you need medical attention.

If you are exposed to latex at your job, tell your employer and co-workers about your latex allergy. Avoid latex gloves completely if you're not at risk for blood and body fluid contamination. Use powder-free gloves if latex gloves are preferable. These measures will help keep others from becoming allergic to latex.

How can I learn more about latex allergy?

Take steps to educate yourself and others by joining the resource networks and support groups listed in the right-hand column above. Work to support workplace policies, industry practices and government legislation that will support the safe use of latex and non-latex alternatives.


Latex Allergy by S Reddy, M.D. (American Family Physician August 1, 2001,

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