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Latex Gloves are Toxic by Brenda Ray

I wanted to write something in the way of information for those that know little or nothing about latex allergy and the dangers of latex.

Three years ago I was a certified nurse-midwife. I hold a masters degree in nursing and I LOVED my work. Unbelievably, I'd never heard of latex allergy. Still, life-threatening latex allergy ended my career. In the presence of latex glove (or balloon) powder, my airway closes and I go into anaphylactic shock.

Natural rubber latex comes from the sap of the rubber tree and currently in this country is used in over 40,000 products. This sap is treated with a soup of powerful chemicals to "cure" it and it is formed into many products that we use in everyday life, such as clothing elastic, mouse pads, pencil erasers, carpet backing. I don't want to go into the problems with the allergy, but I do want to warn those on this list of some of the problems with latex.

In the medical environment, latex gloves (especially powdered) are used in vast numbers. These gloves are powdered with cornstarch, a pretty benign substance on its on. The problem is that the cornstarch serves as a carrier and becomes aerosolized. The dust is everywhere in a hospital or doctor's office and it is breathable. It carries the latex molecules and for many that is deadly. It also carries bacteria. Don't take my word for it, do some research.

Many, many medical studies have identified the problems with powdered gloves. This is documented medical fact. Powdered gloves cause poor wound healing, increased adhesions, and increased infection rates. It is a foreign substance in the human body. Doctors would never think of sprinkling cornstarch into an open wound, but that's exactly what they do when they wear powdered gloves. One pair of powdered surgical (sterile) gloves contains about 1/8 of a teaspoon of cornstarch. Multiply that by everyone on the OR team and you can see the problem. If an OR team of say 6 persons use glove for each case and they do 10-12 procedures a day on one OR suite, that's NINE teaspoons of glove dust in the air and on the operating field. Studies have shown that washing the gloves before patient contact (which is almost NEVER done in the real world) is ineffective as the water only glops the cornstarch into larger particles.

Medical providers are ignoring the data for one reason. (I can say this because I worked in that world for years). The powder makes the gloves easier to put on. That's the ONLY reason they prefer powdered gloves and ignore the medical research. If you do a little bit of research on powdered glove use you will find that they once used silica and before that MOSS. How would you like that sprinkled in you open body cavity?

I encourage you to discuss the dangers of powdered gloves with your healthcare providers and insist that powder-free gloves be used on you, especially for wound care and surgery. If you want more information, you can find it at:

Dr. Edlich, the author of "Medicine's Deadly Dust: A Surgeon's Wake-up Call to Society" was calling the medical industry to task about powdered glove use long before the epidemic of latex allergy. This man is not an alarmist. He's world-renowned authority on surgical wound healing and infection and is a Distinquished Professor of Plastic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

The advent of HIV in the 1980's increased the use of latex gloves by billions. Many, many persons were sensitized to latex. It's estimated by the CDC that between 1 and 6 of every 100 Americans are allergic to latex. If you wear latex gloves on a regular basis, such as medical personnel, that rate jumps to 12-18 in every 100.

Like the tobacco industry, the rubber industry has been vicious towards any groups or individuals trying to educate, litigate, ban, stop, or teach about this problem. In Oregon, the Oregon nurses tried to ban the use of powdered gloves. The rubber industry attorneys showed up in Armani suits and attacked the personal character of the nurses testifying about the dangers of latex powdered gloves.

As the use of latex glove use slowly falls in the medical industry, the rubber industry is shoving their toxic product off on other industries: mechanics, florists, food service, day cares. We have a whole generation of children that are being assaulted with latex protein in the form of rubber nipples, diaper elastic, toys, medical gloves, etc. Do you think their immune systems will fare any better than ours?

Take a stand on this issue that most medical providers are ignoring. Over thirty people have died from latex allergy and countless thousands now suffer from scarring and adhesions (that if investigated) could be tied to glove powder used in surgery. Write your congressman and ask them to get proactive on the issue of powdered latex gloves. There are other cost-effective substitutes for latex gloves, such as nitrile. To me, powdered gloves are a "no brainer." There's just on good reason to be using them!
I hope this helps someone.
Thanks, Brenda Ray

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