Protect Yourself from Latex Allergies
Reported December 2008
Maricopa, Ariz. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Since the 1980s, latex gloves have been an important part of preventing the spread of infectious diseases like MRSA, HIV and AIDS. In fact, ten billion latex gloves are used every year in the United States. As we use more latex, more people are developing dangerous allergies to it. Scientists have developed a new, natural alternative that may solve the problem.
Faith, Lamar and David Ryberg love games -- but that's not all they have in common. They all have Spina Bifida. Like 68 percent of kids with this birth defect, all three have dangerous allergies to latex.
"You just get kind of nervous you could stop breathing at any moment," Lamar told Ivanhoe.
Three million Americans and as many as 17 percent of healthcare workers in the United States have latex allergies. Reactions range from skin irritations and wheezing to a sudden drop in blood pressure, anaphylactic shock and even death. Scientists say a desert plant called guayule offers a new, natural rubber alternative without the proteins that trigger allergic reactions.
Katrina Cornish, Ph.D., a plant biologist and immunochemist at the Yulex Corporation in Maricopa, Ariz., says the key to processing guayule is to release the rubber contained in the plant. It starts with a sort of guayule milkshake.
"We take the whole shrub and grind it up to release the rubber particles, which are made in the bark into an aqueous medium," Dr. Cornish told Ivanhoe.
Rubber particles in the mixture are slightly lighter than water. By spinning the solution in a centrifuge, the rubber separates, forming a liquid that rises to the top.
Dr. Cornish says not only is this latex alternative, called Yulex, safer for those with allergies -- products made with it are more flexible and stronger than latex. In this test, the Yulex on the left stood up to nearly twice as much force as the purple latex on the right.
Uses for guayule latex are virtually endless.
"So far, we haven't found anything made out of rubber that we can't make with guayule," Dr. Cornish said.
It's a new kind of rubber that might just fit like a glove for the millions with latex allergies, like Lamar.
"It would be very, very good!" Lamar exclaimed.
Yulex recently received FDA approval for a medical examination glove. Researchers say it's comparable in price to high-end synthetic latex. Because over 50 percent of rubber products now available are petroleum-based, Yulex could become even more attractive as oil prices increase.
The Materials Research Society and the American Industrial Hygiene Association contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
(W)right On Communications, Inc.
San Marcos, CA 92069
Materials Research Society
Warrendale, PA 15086-7573
American Industrial Hygiene Association
This Month's TV Reports
Almost every kid has at one time or another asked for one for Christmas. Now, engineers have developed what may be the most technologically advanced bike to hit the road yet. It took ten years to develop a new incredibly light and strong model that will take cyclists into the future.
Where in the World?
A picture may be worth a thousand words -- but years after it’s snapped, it may be tough to tell where in the world that photo was taken. To solve the problem, researchers have devised the first computer program that can analyze a single photo and fill in the blanks.
New Surgery for Fido's Knees
A common sports injury in human knees is even more prevalent in dogs. Every year, about 1 million canines undergo surgery for torn ligaments in their knees. A new procedure is offering a quicker and easier way to ease their pain.
Next Generation of Heart Stents
A common heart problem may now have a magnetic solution. Researchers are using the laws of attraction to make heart stents that unclog blood vessels more safely.
Pain and discomfort from heartburn or acid reflux is common -- but when symptoms become severe, it could mean a more serious problem. A new technology is changing the way gastrointestinal disorders are detected.
Protect Yourself from Latex Allergies
Since the 1980s, latex gloves have been an important part of preventing the spread of infectious diseases like MRSA, HIV and AIDS. In fact, ten billion latex gloves are used every year in the United States. As we use more latex, more people are developing dangerous allergies to it. Scientists have developed a new, natural alternative that may solve the problem.
Retrain Your Brain After a Stroke
Stroke patients often have to overcome a number of challenges before they can get back on their feet. Physical therapists are using a new tool to help patients not only retrain their bodies but also rewire their brains.
Cool School Where Peace Rules
Amid growing concern surrounding the effects violent video games have on children, a new computer game could be the alternative parents have been waiting for.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates emissions in the United States rose almost 15 percent between 1990 and 2006, and the number will continue to rise. Carbon dioxide is mainly responsible for the increase. A new high-tech map reveals the areas in the country most responsible for the carbon dioxide problem.
Big Quakes Trigger Smaller Quakes
An earthquake in Alaska could trigger one near you, even if you're not in an earthquake-prone area, new research shows. Seismologists are now finding earthquakes in some unexpected places.
Bacteria as Art
There was a time when doctors thought antibiotics could cure all. It's a different story today as drug-resistant bacteria emerge in places like hospitals and schools. To keep up with changes in bacterial behavior, scientists are fighting bacteria using an artistic approach.