Wilkes University


Wilkes Promotes Latex Allergy Awareness and Promotes Reduction

Because of the increased evidence of latex allergy in children and adults and our desire to prevent possible reactions to natural rubber latex, we have launched an initiative to promote latex allergy awareness, and to reduce the campus use of latex products wherever possible. Our mission is to provide educational information and support to all those interested in latex allergy.

Individuals with chronic conditions (spina bifida, multiple operations, hydrocephalus treated with shunts) have been found to have a high risk of developing this allergy, which can be severe and life-threatening. Latex allergy is also reported in healthy children with common allergic conditions such as asthma and eczema and in adults who are exposed to latex through their work or medical care. The allergy can develop when there is exposure to a product containing natural rubber latex even if there have been no previous reactions. Routes of exposure include contact with skin, wounds, mucous membranes, injection into the bloodstream and inhalation or ingestion of latex-laden powder particles. Many people are so sensitive that small powder particles from balloons and gloves floating invisibly in the room air can cause an allergic reaction and this reaction can be severe.

Whenever possible, departments are asked to substitute synthetic (e.g. vinyl, nitrile or neoprene) gloves for the latex gloves commonly used in science labs, food preparation and by health personnel for first aid, catheterization and other personal care. Latex balloons, a principal cause of latex reactions, should be eliminated from ALL University functions. Mylar balloons may be substituted. Exposure to other natural rubber latex-containing products should also be avoided. These products may include some physical education materials, art supplies, and first aid supplies such as Band-Aids and adhesive tapes. Please review the fact sheet to assist in developing a latex-safe environment for all students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter. Questions or requests for more information can be sent to ehsc@wilkes.edu