I have been in the balloon industry my entire life. In that time, I have only met a small hand full of people with an allergy or sensitivity to latex. Most of the individuals who I have met that have an allergy to latex say that it is more of the powder or from latex on sensitive parts of their person such as inside their mouth.
Recently, it has been brought to my attention that there have been a few places that have banned latex balloons from their facilities because an individual has an allergy to latex. Latex bans in certain buildings is nothing new. Most Hospitals have a ban on latex products as well as some schools. This is understandable as in a hospital they need to control the environment that people are in and if a patient has an unknown allergy to latex and has a reaction while being treated, this could be seen as a strange side effect or a new symptom of the illness.In schools dealing with large amounts of young kids, I can understand it as each child may not be aware of the allergy and could cause the individual to have a reaction unexpectedly, disrupting school activities for the day. One place I do not see a need for such bans is in a professional setting where people are working.
In normal everyday uses balloons do not give off any airborne particles. If there is anything being release into the air by a balloon, it is most likely the talc powder that coats balloons to prevent the latex from sticking to itself. By the time a balloon industry professional has set up decorations or delivered an arrangement, this powder has probably already been rubbed off. If a person with an allergy to latex should then be able to remain in the same building and same room as the balloons with no reaction.
According to the CDC, 8-12% of health care workers who are regularly exposed to latex have some kind of sensitivity. In the general population, the CDC website indicates that latex sensitivity effects only 1-6% of the general population. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America say that the number is actually less than 1% of the US population.
A few years ago I was at an open house event. While there I was twisting balloons in our little booth. I was talking with someone and demonstrated a few things I do while at parties to entertain the kids while I make their balloons. This one woman saw me perform a couple of my bits and was laughing. She walked over and told me that she wanted me to make her a balloon because I made her laugh so hard. The catch was, I had to give the balloon to her husband because she was allergic to latex.
As this event took place 4 years ago I don’t fully remember everything about her allergy but, this demonstrates that people with a latex allergy can be in very close proximity to latex with no issue. I am also aware that all allergies can vary from very mild to very serious. According to some, the most severe instances of latex allergies are from health care workers.
If you or someone you know does have a sensitivity to latex, please leave a comment below and tell us about your experiences with latex and what causes a reaction. We learn everyday and I would like to be more educated about this topic from those who it actually effects. If you do want to learn more about smart balloon practices visit www.theballooncouncil.org