Group calls for ban on latex gloves in health care settings

April 27, 2011

Washington – Advocacy group Public Citizen filed a petition (.pdf file) April 25 urging the Food and Drug Administration to ban natural rubber latex medical gloves because they pose a hazard to health care workers and patients.

According to the petition, health care workers are at risk for allergic reactions to latex, and inhaling the cornstarch powder bound to latex proteins can trigger acute asthma attacks and anaphylactic shock in sensitized workers.

FDA rejected a similar petition from Public Citizen in 1998. However, the agency proposed regulations the following year to reclassify surgical and patient examination gloves and require special controls such as warning labels.

Public Citizen noted that a group of doctors and the director of scientific affairs and clinical education for a glove manufacturer also have asked FDA to ban the use of cornstarch powder on all types of surgical and patient examination gloves.