Q. Does latex paint pose a threat to those who suffer from latex allergies?
A. No, latex paint is not made with latex rubber; in fact the name "latex" is really just a decorative way to describe rubber-based paint. Latex paint is a carefully formulated polyvinyl material with acrylic resin and has never contained natural rubber; it is natural rubber that causes an allergic reaction, so people who have sensitivity to latex products are in no danger of having a reaction to latex paint.
STATEMENT FROM THE AMERICAN COATINGS ASSOCIATION
The American Coatings Association (ACA) would like consumers to know that the type of latex found in latex paints is not the same type of latex found in products that trigger latex allergies. Continued media reports note that commonly-used products containing "latex" have caused allergic reactions, sometimes severe, in approximately one to six percent of the population. These allergic reactions have most commonly been associated with surgical gloves and other natural latex products worn close to the skin. The key distinction is the chemical term "latex" in paint refers to a synthetic resin polymerized from various monomeric materials, principally vinyl acetate and various acrylates dispersed in water. By contrast, the natural latex used in other products is derived from rubber tree sap that contains, among other components, hydrocarbon polymers and proteins. In particular, the protein component of natural latex is regarded as the likely cause of allergic reactions. Because of these and other differences, consumers need not be concerned about using latex paint and developing the allergic reactions that have been associated with natural latex.
For more information, ACA recommends that interested parties read and review the U.S. Centers for Disease control (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-135 entitled "Preventing Allergic Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex in the Workplace" (see http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/97-135/).