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Latex allergy in the workplace.

Toraason MA; Germolec D
Toxicologist 2000 Mar; 54(1):193
The United Stales Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 8-12% of healthcare workers are sensitized to natural-rubber latex. In addition. approximately 0.5-1% of the general population is reported to be sensitized. Clinical signs and symptoms of latex induced disease range from simple irritation to immunologic manifestations such as urticaria, asthma, and anaphylaxis. The mechanisms of latex allergy are complex, and are induced by exposure to numerous allergenic proteins found in natural-rubber latex as well as other chemicals used in latex products manufacturing. For example, there are 250+ proteins containing multiple epitopes in latex of which at least 30 have allergenic potential. Several latex proteins have been epitope mapped. Sequencing demonstrates both unique epitopes and sequences commonly found in other plant proteins. These common epitopes result in cross-reactivity to other plant allergens found in pollens and foods. A further complication arises from the ability of latex proteins to associate with glove powder. This enhances the potential for respiratory sensitization from aerosolized powder associated proteins., and both humans and experimental animals have demonstrated hypersensitivity following exposure to latex via the respiratory route. The diagnosis of latex allergy is complicated by these variables. which in turn hinders the development of intervention strategies. Further epidemiological assessment can more explicitly define the scope. trends, and demographics of latex allergy. Diagnostic accuracy can be improved through greater knowledge of proteins involved in the development of latex allergy, and factors analysis of presently available diagnostic tests. In vivo and in vitro models can elucidate mechanisms of sensitization and provide an understanding of the role of exposure route in latex associated dis. eases. Combined, these efforts can lead to intervention strategies for reducing latex allergy in the workplace.
Allergies; Allergic reactions; Allergic disorders; Sensitization; Gloves; Exposure levels; Occupational exposure; Hypersensitivity; Contact dermatitis; Contact allergies; Dermatitis; Skin disorders; Skin diseases; Skin irritants
Publication Date
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Fiscal Year
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NIOSH Division
Source Name
The Toxicologist. Society of Toxicology 39th Annual Meeting, March 19-23, 2000, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division