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Latex is an integral part of every American's life and has been since the 1920's. Latex is present in the paint on our walls, the tires we ride on , the underwear and shoes we wear, the balls and balloons our children play with and, yes, the mattresses and pillows we sleep on. In fact, wherever rubber products are used generally, latex is present.
Recently, however, the word latex has become associated with another more sinister area, anaphylaxic shock causing severe illness or death as a result o f an allergic reaction to latex. By reviewing the available data a pattern regarding this severe reaction becomes apparent.
The FDA's studies show that in a four year time frame there were 1,118 recorded incidents of latex allergies. Although most of these were simple skin rashes, there were 15 recorded deaths all from the use of enema retention catheters. The most striking statistic is that all of the 1,118 recorded incidents were from medical applications with products produced in a dipped molding process.
To our knowledge there have been no recorded incidents of any anphylatic shock from non medical application of latex, whether it be tires, paint, underwear, mattresses or pillows.
What is so different about medical products and the pillows and mattresses you sleep on?
They are produced from 100% natural latex which contains the suspect protein.
They are produced using the dipped vulcanization process.
They are often produced in third world countries that do not have the strict GMP manufacturing codes used here in the U.S.
They were ineffectively washed and the protein remained on the surface.
They are being used in a medical/skin/body contact situation.
*The process to produce open celled foam rubber is completely different from the dipped process used in glove and medical appliance applications.
We thoroughly wash our mattresses and pillows in a five stage washer. Even if the protein were present this would remove any remaining traces. The openness of our cells allow this thorough washing, whereas the closed sealed surface of a latex glove or catheter is difficult to wash.
There is no skin contact by the user with the latex when sleeping on a latex mattress or pillow.
In our forty-seven years of latex experience which includes millions of pillows, mattresses and cosmetic sponges in the marketplace, there have been no instances of anaphylatic shock.
Our products have been tested by numerous outside testing facilities and found to be naturally hypo allergenic. Our mattresses and pillows are 3 times more resistant to dust mites and are naturally resistant to mold and mildew, major contributors to asthma and pulmonary function allergies.
In conclusion, latex allergies in medical applications are concerning and can be solved through proper formulation and processing, but these problems have no bearing on the latex each of us uses in our daily lives. The latex we paint our walls with, we wear in our clothes, drive on, and most importantly, the latex we use to get a better nights sleep, has a long, long track record of safety.
President of Latex International