Technical Affairs has seen a large increase in the number of requests for information on the latex content of our products and packages. Latex sensitization has become a serious issue for our customers because an increasing number of people are experiencing reactions, some severe, to natural proteins in latex. Only latex from natural sources is of concern.
One area of concern to this latex allergy are the bag-in-box soaps, which contain a latex nozzle. The latex nozzle on our bag-in-box soaps is synthetic latex (polyisoprene), it is not natural rubber latex or dry natural rubber. So, rest assured that our bag-in-box soaps are not a latex allergy concern.
The following Q & A was taken from: Special Bulletin: Latex Allergy American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and may help you and your customers understand this issue.
Q. What is latex allergy?
A. Latex allergy, or hypersensitivity, occurs when the body's immune system reacts to proteins found in natural rubber latex. The immune system launches a "defense" that can cause a host of unpleasant, and in some cases, life threatening symptoms. It is the same type of generalized allergic reaction seen when individuals who are allergic to bee venom receive a bee sting.
Q. How common is latex allergy?
A. It is difficult to say how widespread the problem of latex allergy may be. Approximately 1,000 cases of allergic or anaphylactic reactions to latex-containing medical products have been reported to the FDA since 1988. It is assumed that many other cases go unreported. In one 1994 study, six percent of volunteer blood donors were found to have increased levels of anti-latex IgE antibodies, although many of the volunteers did not show symptoms of latex allergy. Other research suggests that more than 100,000 health care workers may be at risk for developing latex allergy.
Q. What is natural rubber latex?
A. Natural rubber latex is a processed plant product derived from the tree hevea brasiliensis in Africa and Southeast Asia. Natural rubber latex should not be confused with butyl or petroleum-based synthetic rubbers.
Synthetic products, including latex house paints, have not been shown to pose any hazard to latex-sensitive individuals.
Q. How can latex allergy be prevented?
A. All products and medical devices that come in contact with individuals at risk should be reviewed for possible latex content. A label of "hypoallergenic" does not mean that a product is latex free. In general, only low allergen, preferably non-powdered gloves should be used. The powders that are used in some latex gloves can absorb latex proteins and carry them into the air where they may be inhaled by latex-sensitive individuals.
Q. Why is the incidence of latex allergy Increasing?
A. The introduction of Universal Precautions in health care settings, including the widespread use of latex gloves to prevent the spread of AIDS and Hepatitis B, is believed to be the primary cause of increased prevalence to latex allergy. Also there is greater awareness and reporting of latex allergy than in the past.
Suggested Additional Resources and Further Readings
US Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA Technical Bulletin - Potential for Allergy to Natural Rubber
Free Natural Rubber Latex Allergy Discussion Group
400+ members 17+ countries, Archives since February 1996