The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requests assistance in preventing allergic reactions to natural rubber latex* among workers who use gloves and other products containing latex. Latex gloves have proved effective in preventing
transmission of many infectious diseases to health care workers. But for some workers, exposures to latex may result in skin rashes; hives; flushing; itching; nasal, eye, or sinus symptoms; asthma; and (rarely) shock. Reports of such allergic reactions to latex have
increased in recent years --especially among health care workers.
At present, scientific data are incomplete regarding the natural history of latex allergy. Also, improvements are needed in methods used to measure proteins causing latex allergy. This Alert presents the existing data and describes six case reports of workers who
developed latex allergy. The document also presents NIOSH recommendations for minimizing latex-related health problems in workers while protecting them from infectious materials. These recommendations include reducing exposures, using appropriate work practices,
training and educating workers, monitoring symptoms, and substituting non-latex products when appropriate.
NIOSH requests that employers, owners, editors of trade journals, safety and health officials, and labor unions bring the recommendations in this Alert to the attention of all workers who may be exposed to latex.
*In this document, the term "latex" refers to natural rubber latex and includes products made from dry natural rubber. Natural rubber latex