Latex Allergies and Schools
To avoid potentially life threatening allergic reactions, school health programs should review their use of latex gloves. In many schools, latex gloves are being used inappropriately. Numerous advisories point out dangers of latex gloves. High-latex protein content powered gloves are the most dangerous. Students with known latex allergy, Spina Bifida, and other myelodysplasias are at highest risk. Health care workers or others who repeatedly wear latex gloves are at increasing risk. Many hospitals including Johns Hopkins and Scottish Rite Hospitals have eliminated the use of latex gloves. Latex gloves are the most common cause of latex allergies and severe latex allergic reactions. Currently available medical grade vinyl gloves are appropriate except for use in sterile procedures. Nitryl gloves can be used for sterile procedures. The CDC has never recommended vinyl gloves for universal precautions. Although there is disagreement in the literature, medical grade vinyl gloves appear to offer equivalent, or better protection. Proper glove wearing behaviors, including removing all jewelry and avoiding incompatible lotions are important factors for glove integrity. Vinyl gloves cost about the same as latex. Sterile nitryl gloves are more expensive than sterile latex gloves. Schools should review glove use by all staff including teachers, cafeteria workers, and custodians as well as school health staff. Resources in the box in the middle of this page should be helpful.
Latex Allergy Resources
AAAAI and ACAAI Joint Statement concerning the use of powdered and non-powdered natural rubber latex gloves, July 1997, 1 page with 1 page of references “Latex gloves should be used only as mandated by accepted Universal Precautions standards.”
ALERT, Inc. Allergy to Latex Education and Resource Team
Latex free School Supply List (classroom and playground materials)
Latex Free Hospital Product List (includes gloves)
DHHS, NIOSH, CDC Preventing allergic reactions to natural rubber latex in the workplace. Publ No: 97Ê135, June 1997
Latex Allergy Links
A comprehensive and up-to-date listing of latex allergy-related sites on the Internet that includes articles and practical information about latex allergy, a message board, chat room, mailing list and guestbook.
New England Genetics Group, Northeast Myelodysplasia Association Latex allergy and myelodysplasia, July 1995, 2 pages with 7 references. “Latex precautions, including latex-free environment, should be developed for all individuals with myelodysplasia and in other risk groups.”
Spina Bifida Association of America Latex Information Page