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Respiratory symptoms and latex allergen content of chair dust in a health care facility.

Cox-Ganser JM; Rao CY; Weissman DN
Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2003 Apr; 167(7):A718
A hospital had a policy of no latex glove use for a year and asked for a survey for symptoms of latex sensitivity, latex glove use, and sampling for latex allergen. A questionnaire was offered to all 2099 current employees (participation 61 %). Included were sections on upper and lower respiratory symptoms, latex sensitivity, age, gender, tenure, work history, and smoking history. Air, chair and floor dust samples from 23 sites were analyzed for latex allergen, fungal and bacterial contaminants and animal allergens. The data were linked to 600 (70%) participants. Prevalences of latex-related complaints were: 3% latex allergy; 20% skin rash; 6% red, itchy, swollen hands or "water blisters"; and l0% eye/nasal symptoms. Despite a year-long no latex policy, powdered latex gloves and powder-free latex gloves were used by 6% and 17% of participants. Housekeeping had a high level of latex glove use. Levels of latex allergen were: air, below level of detection (LOD); floor dust, 0.05 to 108 ng/m2 (0.11 to 87 ng/mg); chair dust, 0.35 to 274 ng/chair (0.26 to 155 ng/mg). After controlling for personal, home and measured contaminants in dust, latex allergen in chair dust was positively associated (OR = 1.2, P < 0.05) with both work-related upper respiratory symptoms in the previous 4 weeks and lower respiratory symptoms in the last 12 months. Implementation of no-latex glove policies in health care facilities should be monitored in both healthcare and service employees. Even if latex in air is below LOD, exposures associated with health effects may occur from use of contaminated chairs. Chairs should be considered in cleanup of latex allergen reservoirs.
Allergens; Health-care-facilities; Respiratory-system-disorders; Dust-particles; Dusts; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Sampling; Sampling-methods; Questionnaires; Dust-sampling; Air-samples; Smoking
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Email Address
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Source Name
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2003 International Conference, The American Thoracic Society, Seattle, WA, May 16-21, 2003
Page last reviewed: September 17, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division