Natural rubber latex (NRL) contains proteins which can potentially cause ill health. A very common route of exposure to NRL proteins in the workplace is through the use of single-use latex gloves. These gloves can be supplied 'powdered' (where powder is added to ease putting on and removal) or 'powder-free'.
In powdered latex gloves, the NRL proteins can leach out of the glove material and attach to the powder particles. When the gloves are put on or removed, the powder – along with the attached NRL proteins – becomes airborne and can be inhaled. This can cause asthma.
The risk of inhalation and skin exposures to NRL proteins is reduced when non-powdered, 'low-protein' single-use latex gloves are used. 'Low-protein' means manufactured to the European Standards indicated by EN420 (requiring extractable latex proteins to meet the European Standards defined by EN455–3).