Latex allergy

  1. I am a school nurse with a new student coming in with severe latex allergy. I am putting this out to you because I work in a Vo-Tech school and it is an industrial environment. Have any of you experienced workplace latex evaluation? We have many different shops- auto body, auto mechanics, graphic arts, food prep, cosmetology, machine shop, welding, health occupations, etc. All with different MSDS sheets and equipment. I can deal with the walk through evaluation but what about airborne particles? Latex is an airborne contaminent and I am not sure about the risk involved. Has anyone had to help evaluate their workplace for latex hazards? Do you have any advice? How does one go about getting their air checked for contaminents?
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    About nursemarion

    Joined: Jun '08; Posts: 931; Likes: 1,224
    from PA , US


  3. by   3rdcareerRN
    In my industrial environment, we oten deal with potential latex allergies related to skin contact, as temporary workers must use latex gloves. Our protocol is to perform a multi-step assessment, starting with a long list of potential allergens in/out of the workplace -- not just latex -- and then do trials w/ gloves of other types, and sometimes progressing to a dermotological medical eval.

    In my former hospital environment, for someone with medically diagnosed and documented latex allergies, we used non-latex products and removed latex products from their room. Otherwise we took no air control measures.

    In regard to air sampling, you may want to contract with an industrial hygienist; a possible list is at (Amer. Indus. Hygiene Assoc.) [I have no affiliation].

    I'm not sure that answers your questions, but perhaps it is a start.
  4. by   nursemarion
    Thanks for the response. It is a great start. Hospitals have better ventilation, and I do work at a hospital part-time, so I am familiar with latex allergy concerns. I do know that one of the reasons they stopped using latex gloves in hospitals is because the powder from the gloves carried the latex into the environment when the staff removed them. It was shown that the airborne latex was a concern. This is why I am worried about the air as the classroom is right near particularly auto mechanics where we have belts, hoses, tires, all those things made of rubber that are breaking down and going into the environment. I am not sure how far we have to go by law to protect this kid. It is a big issue.
  5. by   EwwThat'sNasty
    Latex can be contact or air-borne. Generally one does not do air sampling looking for latex.

    Rather one assesses the environment. If the student has a history of anaphylactic shock the first thing that I would do is ban the entry of rubber balloons anywhere in the school, for they if popped can be deadly (Mylar is ok). Then simply assess the rooms or have an industrial hygienist or occupational nurse come and consult.

    Your concern about the auto body shop is valid, this area should be off limits to the student. Food prep, cosmetology should be easier, simply look at items like rubberized aprons or gloves and if necessary replace these with non-rubber items. Welding might have rubberized curtains and gloves. It is a fairly daunting task if the person exhibits extreme sensitivity.

    It should be possible to do airborne latex/rubber sampling but it seems unlikely that you can correlate it to the student's level of reactivity. Keep those epi-pens handy and be careful, and I wish you luck.
  6. by   nursemarion
    On thursday I had a student come in with burning throat and coughing after smelling buning rubber in auto mechanics. He was sensitive to sulfer and I guess it releases sulfer? All I could think about is the kids with the latex sensitivity and what it might have done to him.