Switch to Powder-Free Latex Gloves Cuts Health Workers'
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Introducing powder-free
latex gloves into health care facilities can cut down on latex
allergies among workers, a new study shows.
Researchers followed more than 800 health care workers at two
hospitals in Wisconsin for 4.5 years. They tested the amount of
latex allergen in the air ducts of the worker's main work areas
before and after the hospitals switched to powder-free latex
There was a significant link between high levels of airborne
latex allergen and health care workers with a latex allergy, or
sensitivity, said the researchers at the Medical College of
After the switch to powder-free latex gloves the team saw a
16-fold drop in the rate of latex allergy among the health care
workers, and 25 percent of those with latex allergy at the start of
study lost that sensitivity after the switch.
"This study provides the strongest evidence that allergic sensitivity to latex in health care workers is linked to airborne allergen exposure through powdered gloves," lead author Dr. Kevin J. Kelly, professor of pediatrics (allergy/immunology), internal medicine, and vice chair in pediatrics, said in a college news release.
"I believe these findings provide a roadmap for health care institutions that will help minimize the risks of latex sensitization to health care workers," he added.
Kelly's team also found that workers who developed a sensitivity
to latex were three times more likely to quit their job.
The study, published online in the August issue of the
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, received funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has more
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