There are several reasons why latex is popular in different industries. It is flexible, fit, resilient, and protects the skin from contamination. However, many people are allergic to latex. Prolonged exposure to it can lead to symptoms from skin redness, itching to breathing problems. The primary cause of latex allergy is the presence of antigenic proteins in materials made from the Para rubber tree, from which latex is extracted. These proteins sensitize the immune system to latex. When the skin is exposed to latex, the immune system responds to the antigens quite strongly, triggering a reaction.
So, is there a latex-free alternative that has the same properties as latex? Yes, there is. And it’s called Nitrile.
Nitrile is a synthetic rubber polymer that is similar to natural rubber. Since it is synthetic, it does not retain any allergenic properties of latex. Naturally occurring antigen proteins are absent from nitrile, making it a better alternative. It is also resistant to a number of other chemicals and is highly durable.
Nitrile is used for manufacturing oil seals, synthetic leather, cable jacketing, transmission belts, and printer rollers among others. Nitrile finds its greatest use in the medical industry in the form of disposable gloves. Natural rubber latex expose health care workers, patients and others who frequently in contact with the products at risk. Nitrile, which does not contain any trace of latex, can be safely used in the healthcare industry especially for latex-sensitive groups.
It is clear that nitrile is latex free. Nitrile gloves are latex free. With a more scientifically accurate expression as suggested by FDA, manufacturers are supposed to label the nitrile gloves as “not made from natural rubber”. Combine that with its durability, strength, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals, you have a product with the same characteristics as latex without the allergic repercussions.