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July 16, 1997

Health Agencies Update

JAMA. 1997;278(3):194. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550030034015

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Latex Allergy Alert  Concerned about the substantial numbers of people employed in the health care industry who have work-related allergic reactions to natural rubber latex, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued an alert that spells out guidelines for reducing the risk such reactions pose to workers.Reports of allergic reactions triggered by job-related exposures to latexin gloves and other products have increased in recent years, particularly among the 7.7 million or more people employed in the health care industry. An estimated 8% to 12% of health care workers regularly exposed to latex are sensitized, compared with 1% to 6% of the general population, and some experience reactions severe enough to interfere with their ability to continue working in their current jobs.The NIOSH alert advises health care workers and employers that if latex gloves are designated as appropriate protection for handling infectious materials, reduced-protein, powder-free