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Latex Allergies

DUI has been asked about latex allergies and the latex seals DUI uses in its suits. The following is to be used as guidelines only.

Latex, also known as rubber or natural latex is derived from the milky sap of the rubber tree, found in Africa and Southeast Asia. Latex allergy is an allergic reaction to protean antigens in the natural latex. Rubber gloves are the main source of allergic reactions, although latex is also used in other products such as condoms and some medical devices.

What Causes Latex Allergies?

The primary cause of latex allergies is latex protein antigens. This combined with repeated exposure to latex and rubber products can induce symptoms. It is the old high live bad agents and low exposure times vs. low level of bad agents and high exposure times.

About 5% to 10% of health care workers have some form of allergy to latex from wearing gloves. Again they believe this is the result of repeated and continuous exposure.

However there are individuals that can die if someone is eating peanuts in the same room.

Manufacturing processes including washing, chlorination and other treatments can reduce the levels of latex protein antigen and low protein, powder-free gloves have been found to have minimal potential for sensitization in those who have not yet become sensitized to latex. (Note when this allergy issue came up most gloves were not chlorinated. We believe that manufacturing step was left out because of cost because it was not an issue for years.)

Yet when the issue of “latex allergies” came years ago there was a question in our mind regarding this so we discussed it with our vendor of latex seals. Our vendor provided DUI with the following information:

The latex seals are chlorinated which destroys 99.9% of the protein antigen.

Test data was provided to back up this statement. This was a number of years ago. However it is interesting to note that the same compound is used on seals on over-water flights suit for both military and civilian aviators and these are continuous wear items that are used on a daily basis.

DUI has always recommended to customers that if they believe they may have an allergy to latex that we could supply them with a material sample. They could then meet with a specialist who could test them for this.

What is hypoallergenic?

Hypoallergenic: Hypo (means below some level) – it does not mean someone will not be allergic. Just like hypoglycemia is a low blood sugar level. You can have a blood sugar level of 25 or 75 and both are hypoglycemic but there is a big difference in the way these levels impact an individual.

Based on this guideline, the fact that DUI uses chlorinated latex in the seals then the DUI seals are, in fact, hypoallergenic.

Is silicone hypoallergenic?

As far as silicone goes there are medical grade silicones and non-medical grades so in any case you have do testing of your product to a standard to determine whether or not it is hypoallergenic.