Background: Occupational asthma caused by latex has been reported in health care workers and workers in glove manufacturing plants.
Objective: We report occupational asthma from latex in a newly identified occupational setting, a latex doll manufacturing plant.
Methods: We evaluated an index case of asthma associated with work in a latex doll manufacturing plant by performing a workplace challenge and evaluating the work environment. We then performed an occupational survey and skin testing of 22 workers in the doll manufacturing plant.
Results: The patient, a 21-year-old woman, had severe immediate bronchospasm within minutes of beginning a workplace challenge where sanding of latex parts was performed. Two of 22 workers surveyed (including the patient) reported flushing, rhinoconjunctivitis, and wheezing on exposure to sanded doll parts. These two workers were the only subjects surveyed to have a history of atopy and positive immediate-type skin test responses to a raw latex extract and to common aeroallergens.
Conclusions: Sanding or grinding of solid latex during the manufacturing process may result in a significant incidence of occupational asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis from latex sensitization. Atopic workers appear to be most susceptible to developing latex sensitivity in this setting.