Original articles

Allergenicity of latex rubber products used in South African dental schools

Mabe Dikeledi Onnicah, Singh Soogreem Tanusha, Bello Braimoh, Jeebhay F. Mohamed, Lopata Andreas, Wadee Ahmed


Allergens from latex products in healthcare settings have been known to trigger latex induced allergic reactions in healthcare workers (HCWs). There is a need to quantify individual latex allergens in products in order to assess the allergenicity of latex products used in health care settings, so as to minimize the risk of sensitisation to these proteins.

Fourteen latex examination gloves representing six brands (powdered and non-powdered) and five dental rubber dams from five dental academic institutions were analysed for latex allergens and total protein. Total protein content was determined using the BIORAD DC protein assay kit and natural rubber allergen levels using a capture ELISA assay specific for hev b 1, hev b 3, hev b 5 and hev b 6.02.

Hev b 6.02 was found in higher concentrations than other NRL allergens in the products analysed. Hev b 5 content ranged from 0 to 9.2µg/g and hev b 6.02 from 0.09 to 61.5µg/g of sample. Hev b 1 levels were below the detection limit (DL) for 79% of the samples (15/19). Dental dams showed higher allergen levels (median: 80.91µg/g) in comparison to latex gloves (median: 11.34µg/g). Powdered rubber samples also showed higher allergen levels (median: 40.54µg/g) compared to non-powdered samples (median: 5.31µg/g). A statistically significant correlation was observed between total protein and total allergen (r=0.74, p<0.001) concentrations.

Natural rubber latex (NRL) allergen concentrations differ significantly by product and brand. This study has demonstrated that NRL allergens in latex containing products used in South African dental institutions are present at sufficiently high levels to pose an allergic health risk.

Authors' affiliations

Mabe Dikeledi Onnicah, National Institute for Occupational Health,Immunology and Microbiology Section

Singh Soogreem Tanusha, National Institute for Occupational Health, Immunology and Microbiology Section

Bello Braimoh, National Institute for Occupational Health,Epidemiology and Surveillance Section

Jeebhay F. Mohamed, Occupational and Environmental Health Research Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine,University of Cape Town

Lopata Andreas, Department of Immunology (IIDMM), Faculty of Medicine, University of Cape Town,and School of Applied Sciences, Allergy Research Group, Royal Melbourne Institute ofTechnology (RMIT), Melbourne, Australia

Wadee Ahmed, School of Pathology, University of Witwatersrand,National Health laboratory Services

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latex;allergens;occupational, healthcareworkers

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2009;99(9):672.

Article History

Date submitted: 2008-11-17
Date published: 2009-09-02

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