NIOH, RMIT University, (Melbourne, Australia), Health and Safety Laboratory (UK)
Occupational exposures to hazardous biological agents (HBAs) have gained momentum recently. Exposure to airborne natural rubber latex (NRL) proteins has become a concern, particularly among healthcare workers. NRL proteins induce immediate type latex allergies, and have also been reported to cause asthma. Therefore, it is necessary to improve control measures through methods to measure these sensitising agents quickly and accurately. Thus far only a few publications have reported the measurement of latex allergens in glove powder and in airborne particulates (Baur, 2002; Kujala et al., 2002). Although it is well known that glove powder act as a carrier for latex allergens, a very limited number of studies of latex allergy have included the evaluation of workplace exposures to latex aeroallergens. There have been no reports on measuring the levels of latex allergens in the environment in South Africa, thus more detailed research is needed to establish these methods for workplace evaluations and assessments of risks of exposure locally.
Previous studies suggested that the incidence of latex allergy may be higher in dental personnel than other health care workers because of the frequent use of latex gloves. For this reason the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) conducted this study looking at the levels of latex aeroallergens in dental schools. This study investigated the levels of airborne latex allergens in 5 dental institutions, which includes the Universities of Kwa-Zulu Natal (Kwa-Zulu Natal), the Western Cape (Western Cape), Limpopo-MEDUNSA campus (North West), Pretoria and Witwatersrand (Gauteng). The study measurements included the administration of a building walkthrough checklist; personal air sampling, area air sampling and collection of latex products.
Ms. O. Mabe