Friday, March 5, 2010

Flashback Friday - The Latex Free Classroom

If you don't currently work in a latex free environment it is likely that you will eventually. Natural Rubber Latex or NRL contains a protein that can cause severe allergic reaction in people who are genetically susceptible (e.g. those with eczema, other allergies, etc).

An allergy to NRL is different from an irritant rash or contact dermatitis, an allergy is a may include a rash, even a severe rash, but is also likely to include sneezing, watery eyes, swollen lips/throat, hives and possibly anaphylactic shock, which can cause death. Each time a person with a susceptibility is exposed to latex his or chance of developing an allergy increases and each time a person with a NRL allergy is exposed the reaction can become worse than the time before. Therefore limiting latex exposure in the first place can prevent allergies from developing and keep developed allergies from getting worse.

Individuals with congenital disabilities, like spina bifida (individuals with spina bifida are 40-60% more likely to be allergic to NRL), and healthcare workers are at the highest risk of developing an NRL allergy, because they have the highest exposure. Many hospitals and special education schools have eliminated latex gloves, but they are only one source of NRL.

NRL is also found in many adhesives like glues and tapes. Cling design packaging, like that for band-aids may contain latex. Many mobility aids, such as wheelchairs contain latex (in the tires and the cushions especially). Also some toys, such as Koosh balls, have latex.

Latex Allergy Resources is an excellent place to turn for information.  The ALERT Foundation has an excellent list of latex free products with phone numbers.

Here is a fun list I am calling, "Surprise, It's Latex!" All of these products most likely contain latex, see the ALERT list for more information.
  • paste, glue, tape, rubber cement
  • calculator and phone buttons
  • some theraband
  • koosh balls
  • ball pits
  • basketballs and playground balls
  • tire swings
  • erasers
  • clay
  • mouse pads
  • no slip foam on plates
  • pencil grips
  • baby bottle nipples
  • elastic cords in fleece clothes
  • tooth brushes and gum massagers
  • pacifiers
  • some "rubber" duckies
  • older Barbies
  • some dolls
  • elastic in clothing
Basically if it has any of the "S's" you should be suspicious:
  • sticky
  • stretchy
  • smelly (like tires or rubber bands)
Teachers, nurses and caregivers should also be aware that related allergies include bananas, avocados, chestnut, kiwi, pears,  poinsetta and milkweed pods.  Thus in those with severe allergy to latex these should be avoided. 

If you run a latex free classroom there are signs you can print out at Latex Allergy Links for your room door.


    1. And don't forget the reverse-if you (or a child) are allergic to bananas, advocado, etc. you may have-or develop an allergy to Latex. That's what happened to me-ragweed as a child developed into a banana/advocado allergy as a teen-which turned into a Latex allergy as an adult. Not as simple as that-but they are all linked to each other.

    2. Some one asked for a latex free ball. Check the list I linked to. Kate

    3. Kate, I have been looking but I can not find the link for the latex free balls. Please help?

    4. In response to Chicory Blue the specialists say that Latex allergy is from repeated exposure to Latex and we who have that allergy can have cross reactive reactions to certain foods bananas, avocados, chestnuts, kiwi being on the high list because they contain the same chemicals as Latex. On the other side if you have an allergy to these foods you can predispose yourself to a Latex allergy by also exposing yourself to Latex while you are aware of your allergy to these certain foods. Experts are not quite sure why this occurs and no cure yet although Italy is performing desensitization with some great results.


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