Background Quantification of natural rubber latex (NRL) allergens of NRL glove extracts has been reported in several studies. Similarly, immunoassay studies reporting the level of NRL aeroallergens in air samples have been published. When studying the NRL allergens of gloves, however, little attention has been focused on identifying the relationship between extractable NRL allergens of medical gloves and NRL aeroallergens in indoor air.
Objective In an experimental study we analysed NRL aeroallergens of medical gloves in joint relation to total airborne dust concentration and NRL allergen concentration in gloves.
Methods NRL aeroallergen level was measured using a chamber setting with 18 lots of powdered medical gloves. In each setting 10 pairs of powdered NRL gloves were swinging in an unventilated chamber (9 m3). Air samples were collected using airflow through Millipore filters (pore size 0.8 µm). The filters were weighed before and after the experiment, and total airborne dust concentration in the chamber was calculated. The filter samples were then extracted and the NRL allergen level measured by IgE ELISA-inhibition assay. Furthermore, cut NRL gloves were extracted and analysed by the same method. Finally, levels of two major NRL allergens, Hev b1 and Hev b 6.02, were measured in three selected NRL glove brands.
Results The NRL aeroallergen level in the chamber air ranged from < 0.9 to 2.9 allergen units (AU)/m3. The total airborne dust concentration in the chamber air remained low with all lots of gloves measured (range < 20 to 80 µg/m3). The NRL allergen level in cut glove extracts varied over 100-fold (< 10 to 1050 AU/mL). Statistically significant correlation between aeroallergen concentration and airborne dust (r = 0.8, P = 0.0015) concentration was found. Moreover, significant correlation between aeroallergen levels and allergen content of cut glove pieces was observed (r = 0.59, P < 0.05). Hev b 1 levels varied from 9 to 25 ng/mL and the levels of Hev b 6.02 from 1720 to 14460 ng/mL in the glove extracts. In the extracts from airborne dust samples, Hev b 6.02 content varied from 61 to 183 ng/m3, whereas Hev b 1 levels were very low (0.4 to 3 ng/m3).
Conclusion An elevated NRL aeroallergen level is rather related to a high level of airborne glove powder than to a high concentration of extractable NRL allergen in medical gloves.
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