BACKGROUND: Inhaled natural rubber latex (NRL) allergens in a healthcare environment can cause NRL sensitization and reduce pulmonary functions.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the amount of proteins and the effects of NRL gloves on the pulmonary functions of female nurses in two hospitals in the southern Thailand.
METHODS: The study included 340 female nurses from two hospitals in which self-reported information and a blood sample were collected. NRL sensitization was determined by using a solid-phase enzyme-labeled fluoroenzyme-immunoassay for anti-NRLIgE antibodies. Proteins in NRL gloves were measured by a modified Lowry method. Pulmonary function was measured by a spirometer.
RESULTS: The prevalences of respiratory effects self-attributed to NRL glove use and of NRL sensitization were 6.5 and 4.7%, respectively. Four of the 16 sensitized nurses reported respiratory symptoms. NRL sensitized nurses had lower forced expiratory flow (FEF25-75% predicted value) than those who were non-sensitized (Adj. difference = -12.56, 95% CI = -24.41 to -0.70). Furthermore, examination gloves contained protein levels in the range of 111-250 mg/dm2. Difference types of NRL glove contained with different amount of proteins.NRL sensitization was more prevalent in nurses with high concentrations of proteins in NRL gloves (p = 0.04).
CONCLUSION: Sensitization to NRL was associated with a decrease in FEF25-75% predicted value, indicating narrowing of the small airways of the lung. Use of gloves with low proteins can reducing NRL allergen exposure in these hospitals, which may reduce the risk of developing respiratory problems and NRL sensitization.
- pulmonary function