Illinois Parks & Recreation
May/June 1995 • Volume 26, Number 3
The Hidden Dangers
by Tammy McCoy, CTRS, CLP and Marybeth Jones, CTRS, CLP
With today's trend toward inclusion of individuals with disabilities into community recreation programs, there is a strong need to educate the public on the possible allergic reactions to latex, particularly in individuals with spina bifida. The possibility of severe latex allergy in individuals with spina bifida was first raised in 1989. Since that time, research studies have shown that between 18% and 40% of children and adolescents with spina bifida are sensitive to latex as measured by history or blood tests. Although a lot has been learned about rubber allergy in the last few years, the problem is really just beginning to be studied and understood.
WHAT IS LATEX?
WHO IS AT RISK?
It is important to remember that even children who have never shown a reaction to latex can develop this allergy in the future just by exposure. Therefore, recreation providers need to minimize exposure whenever possible.
WHAT ARE SOME PRODUCTS WITH LATEX COMPONENTS?
Art supplies (paint, markers, glue)
Carpet backing, gym floors
Foam rubber lining of braces
Racquet, tool handles
Balls (koosh, tennis)
Wheelchair cushions, tires
Beach and water toys
Zippered plastic bags
WHAT ARE SOME ALTERNATIVES?
WHAT ARE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A POSSIBLE ALLERGY TO LATEX?
28 • Illinois Parks & Recreation* May/June 1995
WHAT TO DO IN THE CASE OF AN ALLERGIC REACTION?
What we are hoping to accomplish through this article is an overall understanding of the impact latex can have on recreation programming. Park and recreation professionals should identify those who may be at risk and take the necessary steps to reduce exposure. We are not expecting agencies to go out and replace all of their equipment overnight, but instead use safe alternatives when necessary.
Tammy McCoy, CTRS, CLP, is an Area Coordinator/or the Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA) in Rolling Meadows. Marybeth Jones, CTRS, CLP, also works at NWSRA as a Manager of Special Recreation Services.*
Spina Bifida Association of America, Latex in the Home and Community. Washington. D.C., 1994.
The Children's Memorial Medical Center, Latex Allergy. Information for Parents. Chicago, 111., 1992.
Federal Drug Administration
Problem Reporting Program
Illinois Parks & Recreation* May/June 1995* 29
Sam S. Manivong, Illinois Periodicals Online Coordinator