Latex Allergy Program


Purposes

A.  To identify students and employees with known latex allergies or those at risk for latex allergy/reaction.

B.  To provide a work environment that minimizes exposure to natural rubber latex.

Definitions

A.      Latex allergy is a sensitized immune response (i.e. Become Latex Sensitive) to latex protein antigens found in natural rubber latex products.

  1. Clinical findings may depend on the sensitivity of the patient, the route of exposure, and the quantity of the antigen in the product:

a. Type IV (contact dermatitis, often delayed) redness, swelling, papules, itching, excema.  A person may have a sensitivity to latex chemicals that manifests itself as contact dermatitis.  However, when the latex product comes into contact with mucous membranes, the same individual may have an anaphylactic reaction.

b. Type I (systemic, immediate) urticaria, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma, hypertension, angioedema, bronchospasm, nausea, vomiting, shock/cardiac arrest.

  1. Routes of exposure to natural rubber latex products that have resulted in dermatitis and/or systemic reactions include:

  1. Cutaneous
  2. Mucous membrane
  3. Inhalation
  4. Internal tissue
  5. Intravenous
  6. Indirect contact

B.     Persons at greater risk for the development of latex allergy include:

  1. Anyone with frequent or prolonged medical or occupational exposure:

  1. Spina bifida, myelodysplasia or genito-urinary birth defects
  2. Multiple surgeries or procedures
  3. Daily bladder and bowel care
  4. Health care workers
  5. Other occupational exposure
  1. Anyone with an allergy history especially of asthma and environmental allergies.

  1. Anyone with food allergies especially but not limited to bananas, avocados, kiwi fruit, chestnuts, potatoes, tomatoes, peaches, grapes, cherry, pineapple and papaya.

  1. Anyone with unexplained anaphylaxis during surgery or other invasive procedures.

  1. Anyone with irritant or contact dermatitis especially to latex chemicals in gloves.

C.     Latex precautions are used for students and employees at high risk for an allergic reaction to a natural rubber latex product and include:

  1. Latex free alternate products in the work environment.

  1. If equipment cannot be removed or replacements cannot be found, cover latex portion of equipment to prevent direct contact.

Program Statement

A.      If a qualified practitioner determines a student/employee is latex sensitive/allergic, they must submit in writing suggested accommodations for consideration. Student requests for accommodations should be submitted to the Counseling and Health Education office of Student Development (CSB) or Counseling and Career Services (SJU) for consideration.  Suggested accommodations for employees shall be submitted to the office of Human Resources.

B.     The student or employee will then need to inform each faculty/ instructor or supervisor of recommended accommodations at the initial contact and whenever the use of latex containing equipment may be involved.

C.     Where appropriate, non-latex gloves will be utilized.

D.     If latex gloves are needed, powder-free gloves with reduced protein content will be provided (these gloves reduce exposures to latex protein and thus reduce the risk of latex allergy).

E.     Utilize the following tools to assist in implementation of this policy:

  1. Addendum A:  Product guidelines list

  1. Also see the Blood borne pathogen standards (determining when to utilize personal protective equipment).

F.      Student/employee will take responsibility for knowing which articles/equipment in his/her work area may contain latex/cause and adverse reaction.

G.     Use appropriate work practices to reduce the chance of reactions to latex.

  1. When wearing gloves, do not use oil-based hand creams or lotions (which can cause glove deterioration).

  1. After removing latex gloves, wash hands with a mild soap and dry thoroughly.

  1. Practice good housekeeping: frequently clean areas and equipment contaminated with latex containing dust.

H.     Learn to recognize symptoms of latex allergy.

I.         CSB/SJU  highly recommends wearing a medical alert bracelet/necklace.  Students choosing not to wear a medical alert bracelet will be asked to sign a release of institutional responsibility.

When students/employees are in off-site facilities not covered by this policy, they will operate within the policies and procedures of the host facility, including the latex policies. In the absence or inadequacy of host facility policy, students/employees will default onto CSB/SJU policy for prudent procedure.

Sources:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health: Preventing Allergic Reactions to Natural
  • Rubber Latex in the Workplace.  Latex alert
  • ANA Position Statement: Latex allergy
  • Allina Hospital System Latex Policy Statement
  • St. Cloud Hospital Latex Policy Statement

For more information:

Appendix A

Latex in the Laboratory Environment

Frequently Contain Latex

Examples of Latex-free Alternatives

Ambu Bag (black, reusable)

Clear, disposable ambu bags

Balloons

Mylar balloons

Band-Aids

Sterile dressing with plastic tape

Blood pressure cuff

Use over clothing or stockinet

Catheters, indwelling

Silicone Foleys

Catheters, straight

Plastic

Chux (washable rubber pads)

Disposable underpads

Crutches – axillary, hand pads

Cover with stockinet

Dressing – micropore

Tegaderm

Elastic bandages, Ace wrap

TEDS

Gloves

Latex-free

Heparin/Saline lock

Stop cock to inject medications

IV tubing, injection ports

Use latex-free tubing, cover Y-sites and do not use

Mannequins

Determine latex content.  Consider purchase of latex-free mannequins

Medication vials

Remove latex stopper

Stethoscope tubing

Cover with cotton sheath

Suction tubing

Use latex-free tubing

Syringes

Bard syringes.  The plunger on many syringes contains latex

Tape-cloth adhesive

Plastic, silk microfoam, durapore, transpore

Tourniquet

Cover with cloth

Most elastic (i.e. contained in oxygen headbands, hose, hats) is natural rubber latex – Do not use.