Latex is manufactured from the milky exudate derived from the Hevea Brasiliensis otherwise known as a rubber tree.
Latex physical properties include
Unfortunately as with other similar natural products NRL (Natural Rubber Latex) contains proteins, which are associated with some individuals developing of an allergy. Of the general population about 1- 6% and of healthcare workers regularly exposed about 8-12% are believed to be potentially sensitised to NRL, although not all develop symptoms.
Latex allergy symptoms range from dermatitis to in extreme cases anaphylaxis. Allergens attach to the corn starch which is used in the manufacture of powdered gloves. Allergic individuals may experience symptoms simply by being in the same room as latex gloves, the airborne powder can still be inhaled and cause a reaction.
Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 states:
Single use disposable natural rubber latex gloves may be used where a risk assessment has identified them as necessary. When they are used they must be low protein and powder free .
The UK HSE has considered that latex gloves can be possibly hazardous to health and employers need to be aware of their legal duty to their employees. This statement of policy is on the HSE website.
In many situations a risk assessment will suggest that in the presence of a risk of blood-borne pathogen transmission NRL is the safest choice of material providing the worker and patient are not sensitised to this. Not all NRL free gloves afford the same degree of protection against blood-borne pathogens so care must be taken in the choice of substitutes.
Caution: Safe use of this glove by or on latex sensitised individuals has not been established
Warning: Isolated cases of allergic reactions to latex rubber or powder have been reported. If you experience a reaction to this product, discontinue use immediately and consult your physician. This product contains natural rubber latex which may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. This latex glove contains 50 micrograms or less of total water-extractable protein per gram of glove. Other components used in making gloves may also cause allergic reactions in some users
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