Summary on Latex Allergy in the Workplace (from JADA) Latex Allergy in the Workplace first talks about the background of the obvious problem of Latex allergy. natural rubber latex is extracted from the milky sap of the rubber tree He vea Braziliensis namely in Malaysia. The history of Latex gloves began over a hundred years ago. The first recorded incidence of hypersensitivity (allergic reaction) to the natural rubber Latex occurred in 1939. Because of the upsurge of infectious diseases there was an increase in imported Latex gloves increased from one million in 1987 to eight million in 1988. Also, because of this increase in demand, foreign suppliers didn’t live up to the US requirements in manufacturing the gloves, which has of course resulted in a higher latex exposure.
And because of Latex being an allergen, the repeated exposure to it may become life threatening. Some types of allergic reactions are as follows: ICD – Irritant Contact Dermatitis – Because of around 200 different compounding chemicals in the gloves, and not properly washing hands after use an itchy, irritated, dryness occurs on the hands. ACD – Allergic Contact Dermatitis (Type IV) – is a delayed reaction to the Latex and usually occurs 24 to 96 hours after exposure. The symptoms of this certain reaction, is similar to poison ivy. Immediate Hypersensitivity (Type I) – Although the least common reactions to latex, these are the most severe and life-threatening.
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There have been serious reactions to Latex when inhaled as the proteins are aerosolized during glove cleaning and removal. In 1997 62% of Latex related deaths were from gloves alone. A positive diagnosis of Latex allergy is made by using the results of a medical history, physical exam, diagnostic / exposure related evaluation, and tests. Some tests include, the patch test, the prick skin test, and radio allegro-sor bent tests.
With all these tests there is yet to be a ‘gold standard’; for diagnosing Latex allergy. The big problem with these tests is that there are a significant number of wrong diagnosis results. The article goes on to tell just who is at risk to this allergy and who has increased risk. Everyone really is at risk to developing an allergy to Latex because even if you are not healthcare providers, workers that produce Latex products, or children with spina bifida or urogenital defect (all which have increased risk) you can still be exposed to Latex in many ways. Dentists use Latex in many products as do other medical facilities and law enforcement.
Sexual devices also are made of Latex, Painters use Latex gloves, house keeping personnel, fire fighters, shoes, elastic in pants and socks are all examples of daily contact with Latex that you may be experiencing yourself. There are many different strategies for decreased Latex allergy to help subside. One is simply guidelines that the employers need to emphasize to protect workers from unnecessary exposure to Latex. Some include screening of high-risk workers for symptoms to just ensure employees use good housekeeping techniques to remove Latex dust from the workplace. The most major and perhaps the most necessary precaution to the Latex allergy would be to not use Natural Latex gloves at all. Some other gloves that could / should be provided are non-latex gloves, reduced protein – powder free gloves.
Some other substitutes for Latex gloves are vinyl, niu ile, neoprene, and styrene based copolymers. These gloves provide the same or better safety than Latex gloves. Non-Latex gloves although are more expensive than the Latex gloves. Although short term benefits of Latex costs are evident, prevention has to be the better and less-expensive than ignoring the problem.
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Workers compensation and even suing can be damaging to the funds as well as just losing good doctors or employees and having to find / hire a new one, much more so than a 25% increase in money spent for Latex substitutes. Some places in Canada, Europe and our nation have transferred to non-latex products already. I can’t understand why the US Government has not taken a more precautious and safe approach to Latex, as no real implications of switching to substitutes have come about. People need to be more educated on this out breaking allergy and need to be aware of this when choosing their job that may include repeated exposure to Latex allergy.