Winter 2004

Consumer Product Safety Commission
Petition to Label Consumer Products Containing Natural Rubber Latex

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) received a petition from Debi Adkins, editor of Latex Allergy News, requesting that the CPSC issue a rule declaring natural rubber latex (NRL) to be a strong sensitizer under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, and that consumer products containing NRL be labeled.

In March 2000, the CPSC requested comments on the petition and received a total of 85. Unfortunately, after reviewing the petition, comments, and other relevant information, the CPSC staff is recommending that the CPSC deny the petition. The staff concludes that available data do not support that NRL is a strong sensitizer as defined in the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. The CPSC staff states that current scientific information about the development of NRL allergy from consumer products is limited, and it does not appear that further information will be developed in the near future. The staff’s briefing package on this issue is available on the CPSC website: www.cpsc.gov.

To receive further comments from the public on the petition, the CPSC held a public meeting on December 10, 2003. Written submissions can also be sent and will be accepted until January 10, 2004.

The American Latex Allergy Association supports the petition for the health and safety of consumers. While it’s a positive step that medical products are now required to be labeled for latex content, it’s the consumer products that people come in contact with everyday that are likely to be the greater cost and safety issue in the development of NRL allergy.

In addition, there are currently no guidelines regulating the level of allergenic protein contained in consumer products.

Considering NRL is present in almost 40,000 products, it’s impossible to eliminate all NRL exposure from daily life. Without accurate labeling, consumers may not even be aware that NRL is an allergen and that it’s present in products around them every day.

If consumers experience symptoms when exposed to NRL, but don’t know the cause, or that it’s allergy related, how will they even begin to learn to avoid NRL before the allergy progresses to chronic asthma or anaphylaxis?

The issue of labeling consumer products is paramount in protecting the health and safety of consumers. We urge you to stand with us on this issue and send your written comments to the CPSC by January 10, 2004 in support of the petition to label consumer products containing NRL.

Comments should be labeled “Latex Petition Briefing” and sent to: Office of the Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, DC 20207. Comments can also be submitted by fax to (301) 504-0127, or by email to cpsc-os@cpsc.gov.