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Allergy to chemicals used to process rubber 11 Sep 2013 07:22 #1


I have a skin allergy to diethylthioureas which are used in the processing of rubber and my doc has told me to avoid contact with processed rubber products. (tires,neoprene products etc). I don't believe I have an allergy to the rubber itself though.

I'm not sure if a latex mattress could work for me.
Does the latex mattress manufacturing process contain these chemicals?
If so, would the sheets and layers protect me from contact with the latex?
If not, could I use something like latex with some sort of foam layer on top?

Would organic help at all?

thanks! btw this site is great.

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Allergy to chemicals used to process rubber 11 Sep 2013 14:18 #2

Hi doshspy,

Most cases of "type IV" rubber allergies are contact allergies or sensitivities and are usually connected to the compounds used in formulating the foam or in some cases to the surface proteins in latex and involve skin reactions. Type 1 allergies are to the natural rubber proteins in rubber itself and are an immune reaction but are far more serious and fortunately very rare. There is more about latex allergies in post #2 here .

Type IV "dermatitis type" allergies would generally only be an issue with direct contact (such as with latex gloves) and because latex used in mattresses is covered it wouldn't normally present a problem.

A quick google search on Diethyl thiourea indicates it is an anti degradent used with several types of rubber (including natural rubber and styrene butadiene or synthetic rubber) but none of the articles I read here and here or a few others mentioned latex rubber foam rubber as a potential source. In most cases the compounding formula for rubber foam is proprietary so I would imagine it would be very difficult to find out any of the specific chemicals that are used by any specific company although it may be worth contacting them if it was a serious concern.

An easier approach would probably be to test a sample of the rubber in the mattress against the skin for any sensitivity. Again though ... the rubber itself wouldn't be in contact with the skin in a mattress so this would just be "additional insurance".

If a latex manufacturer that foams latex uses Diethyl thiourea in their natural rubber products ... it would likely also be present in their organic rubber as well because an organic certification for foamed rubber only covers the 95% of the latex core that is rubber not the chemicals used to manufacture the foamed Layer (see post #2 here ) so I don't think there would be any additional benefit in choosing organic latex.

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