• Kyle Durward

Keep a lookout for latex

Natural rubber latex (NRL) is an integral part of thousands of everyday consumer and healthcare items.

As with many other natural products, NRL contains proteins to which some individuals may develop an allergy.

An allergic reaction can occur when skin comes into contact with the proteins contained in the natural rubber the latex is produced from and that haven’t been removed as part of the production process.

Latex allergy most commonly manifests itself as localised urticaria, however other symptoms include allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma and rarely anaphylaxis.

Individuals exposed to NRL on a regular basis include workers in the car mechanics, catering and electronics trades.

In order to verify whether products could be causing latex allergies, HSE has developed immunoassay standard testing for four of the most common latex allergens.

They have also developed occupational hygiene testing for workers environmentally exposed to latex e.g. in the course of spraying latex as a specialist application.

Natural rubber latex proteins are substances hazardous to health under COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations). Therefore, COSHH and the COSHH ACOP (Approved Code of Practice) apply, including the specific requirements for the control of substances that cause occupational asthma.

HSE’s website contains free information and guidance about managing the health risks posed by exposure to latex.

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