Latex Balloon Allergy

by Kerrie
(New Jersey)

We are in the process of getting our ideas ready for an 8th grade dance... along with all the other decorations we have incorporated balloons.


There is now a mom who has said she is allergic to latex. She is concerned that if a balloon should pop at the dance her son could get the latex on his clothes and then come home and she would be affected.

Is this possible, that latex could stay on clothes and then affect a person who is allergic to latex? She was at a meeting the other night where balloons were in the room and actually blown up. The next day she said she felt her throat closing up, but she did not leave the meeting.

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Allergies to Latex Balloons
by: Margit

Hi Kerrie,

The exact causes for latex allergies are still debated in the medical community. The main theory is that people with a latex allergy are allergic to a specific protein found in natural rubber, which latex balloons are made of. This protein is picked up by the powder in- and outside of latex balloons. Now, if you decorate a room with latex balloons, and especially when some of the balloons pop, the powder carrying the allergy causing molecules is spread around the room, and inhaled by the people in the room.

The most common cause for a allergic reaction is DIRECT contact with the latex product, like balloons or gloves. Inhaling latex particles can cause allergic reactions too.

From what I've read, I would say that the mom should not attend the dance (because of the latex particles in the room). However, the danger of the son carrying home enough latex particles in his clothes to cause an allergic reaction is minimal. If the mom wants to be extra careful, she could ask her son to put the clothes into the washing machine as soon as he comes back from the dance.

Hope that helps,
Margit

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