Occupational Asthma Reference

Sri-Akajunt N, Sadra S, Jones M, Burge PS, Natural rubber latex aeroallergen exposure in rubber plantation workers and glove manufacturers in Thailand and health-care workers in a UK hospital, Ann Occup Hyg, 2000;44:79-88,

Keywords: rubber, latex, exposure, glove, thailand, healthcare worker, UK, hospital, am

Known Authors

Sherwood Burge, Oasys Sherwood Burge

Meinir Jones, Royal Brompton Hospital, London Meinir Jones

Steve Sadhra, Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health, Birmingham Steve Sadhra

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Objectives—To estimate personal airborne natural rubber latex (NRL) concentrations for three occupational exposure groups; rubber plantation workers and NRL glove manufacturers in Thailand and health care workers in the UK. To utilise these data to classify the populations into appropriate exposure groups for the exposure-response analysis in the epidemiological study on latex allergy.

Methods—Two rubber plantations (110 workers), three NRL glove manufacturing factories (583 workers) in Thailand and one UK hospital (490 workers) were selected for the study. A preliminary workplace survey was carried out at each workplace in order to assign job titles subjectively in to high, moderate or low exposure groups for the purpose of sample selection. Between 5 and 20% of workers from each group for the three populations were then selected randomly for personal measurement of latex airborne allergens. Personal sampling was conducted using a 25 mm PTFE filter loaded in to an IOM sampling head at 2 l. min-1. NRL aeroallergens were measured by an inhibition assay with NRL-specific IgE antibodies from NRL-sensitised people.

Results—A total of twenty-two personal samples were collected from plantation workers, sixty-one samples from the glove manufacturer employees and twenty seven from health care workers. The highest geometric mean (GM) NRL aeroallergen concentration was found in the glove manufacturing factories (7.3 µg m-3), followed by the rubber plantations (2.4 µg m-3) and the UK hospital (0.46 µg m-3). Amongst the NRL glove factories, the NRL aeroallergen concentrations were highest for those conducting the following tasks; glove stripping, glove inspections and packing of powdered gloves. The GM NRL aeroallergen for these tasks were in the range of 12.9 to 17.8 µg m-3.

Conclusions—In the process from tapping and manufacture of latex gloves through to their use the highest exposure to NRL aeroallergens is likely to occur in the manufacturing factories. Exposure to aeroallergens for the plantation workers was considered to be moderate and that of health care workers to be low.

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