Inadvertent exposure to latex poses a “serious health risk to millions of Americans,” Dr. Donald H. Beezhold, chair of the Latex Allergy Committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) warns.
Allergic reactions to latex — which can range from a poison ivy-like rash to life-threatening anaphylaxis — are common in hospitals and other medical settings, where rubber gloves are plentiful.
But less-visible products in other environments can also pose danger, according to the AAAAI.
“Consider,” said Beezhold, “that restaurant meals are frequently prepared by cooks wearing latex gloves. In schools, the cafeteria may be a threat, but there is also potential exposure to latex in school supplies.”
Estimates of the prevalence of latex allergy vary, but the condition disproportionately affects healthcare workers and other populations frequently exposed to latex.
Allergy to proteins in natural rubber latex, which became a significant concern by the late 1980s, is believed to have originated from an increased use of latex gloves due to infection precaution policies instituted at health care facilities over the last decade, according to the academy. However, new cases of latex allergy leveled off in the 1990s.
Read more at Reuters