Hidden Danger: Should Texas Ban Latex?
Latex gloves seem like one of the essential tools in the fight against diseases.
I always thought that latex gloves were standard when it came to a variety of uses. I've seen food service workers wear them while prepping food. Many doctors and clinics use them. I was shocked to learn of the hidden dangers of latex.
Several states have already banned latex gloves. Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Rhode Island have banned latex gloves. Illinois bans their use in restaurants.
Why are latex gloves a problem?
Latex allergies can be dangerous. Latex allergies vary in intensity. They range from mild skin irritation to more severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. The prevalence of latex allergies among the general public is generally believed to be between 1%-6%.
However, among healthcare workers exposed to latex gloves and other latex products at higher rates, the prevalence of latex allergies may be as high as 17%. These allergies can be extremely severe with latex prophylactics.
Along with the dangers of allergic reactions, there is also a risk of latex food contamination. Tiny latex particles can cause severe allergic reactions, often in people with no previous history of them. Given how latex gloves smell, I can't imagine they do anything for the food's flavor.
The porous texture of latex gloves can cause them to become contaminated with bacteria or other pathogens during food handling and lead to cross-contamination.
If all this is true, why don't we ban latex gloves in Texas? The answer often comes down to economics. The best alternative to latex gloves is nitrile gloves. Nitrile gloves are made from a synthetic material that requires more processing and manufacturing.
Nitrile gloves are a better choice overall and don't require powder. For food service industry applications, poly gloves are a better choice.
At the very least. If not an outright ban, perhaps Texas should require signs in businesses that use latex gloves in food preparation. That way, people who have a known latex allergy can steer clear. I would feel better knowing any restaurant where I dine is not using something that could cause an allergic reaction that I don't even know about.
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