Paving, Asphalt, Tires and Latex Allergies:
What is the Relationship?

By Donald F. Groce, Best Manufacturing Company

Donald Groce spearheads technical services and the analytical testing lab at Best Manufacturing. He is a frequent contributor to Latex Allergy News. This article appeared in the August 1996 edition.

If you are a latex allergy victim and you experience any type of reaction around streets that are being paved, or asphalt that is being added to roof structures, there is a very good reason. Asphalt, when combined with ground up tires in the paving process, contains natural rubber.

Since the very early days of paved-highway construction, rubber has been added to modify asphalt. Natural rubber, styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and neoprene are added to improve the temperature sensitivity of asphalt at both low and high temperature extremes.

In addition, these rubbers aid in waterproofing the asphalt and reducing cracking at low temperatures. Many countries use natural rubber to make rubberized asphalt; however, in the U.S., recycled or reclaimed rubber has been used to reinforce asphalt since the early 1960s. The reclaimed rubber is mainly from ground whole-tire rubber and ground tire tread. These tire components contain natural rubber, SBR, and butyl rubber.

Paving with rubberized asphalt consists of the following four steps or layers: Asphalt concrete hot mixes, stress-absorbing membrane interlayer (SAMI), stress-absorbing membrane (SAM) or seal coat, and joint and crack sealers.

Rubber, either in the form of ground up tires or as powdered devulcanized rubber, is added to each of the layers.

The amount of rubber added is up to 25 percent of the weight of the total blend. The rubber components are added to the pug mixer and blended at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. When the asphalt is being mixed or sprayed, natural rubber latex particles are almost certainly being aerosolized.

The latex allergy sufferer also needs to be aware of the rubber found in both passenger car tires and commercial vehicle tires. At least 70-75 percent of the natural rubber produced today is used to manufacture tires. Tires contain natural rubber in two forms: Latex (1.4 percent proteins) and as dry sheet rubber (2.2 percent proteins).

The following outlines the different components of passenger car tires and what blends of rubbers they contain.

  • Interliners - Natural rubber is blended with butyl and SBR rubbers.
  • Tire Carcass - Natural rubber is used almost exclusively.
  • Side Walls - Natural rubber is blended with butyl and SBR and EPDM rubbers.
  • Tread Base - Natural rubber is blended with butyl, isoprene and SBR rubbers.
  • Tread cap - Natural rubber is blended with butyl and SBR rubbers.
  • Tread - SBR is used almost exclusively.

This list clearly shows that natural rubber alone or blended with other rubbers such as SBR, butyl rubber and isoprene is used in almost every part of the tire making process. As for commercial vehicle tires, the amount of natural rubber increases with the size of the vehicle. For example, large earth mover tires are made of 100 percent natural rubber.

There is no specific data concerning the exact level of natural rubber proteins in tires or rubberized asphalt.

It is possible that the rubber proteins are denatured by the high temperatures used in the mixing of the asphalt. However, latex allergens have been found in tire dust, roadside dust and air samples from the Los Angeles area. More than 10,000 pounds of rubber tire particles are released into the external air of Los Angeles every day.

A study of blood samples from asthmatics and healthy persons from the Los Angeles area showed a high correlation in the increased incidence of latex allergen antibodies in asthmatics. Victims of latex protein hypersensitivity should avoid areas that are being paved or roofed when asphalt is being used. The airborne particles of natural latex proteins emitted in these processes are known to cause reactions in latex allergic individuals.

Copyright © Latex Allergy News
Reproduced here with permission.

Table of Contents

Latex Allergy Links — Main Menu

Latex Allergy Links Message Board

Toys & Baby Products — Manufacturers’ Phone Numbers

Latex Gloves in Food Operations PDF
Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services Sep 07 2001

Ever more complex;
Lawsuits and increasing regulation mount as argument over NR latex policies rages

Miles Moore Rubber & Plastics News Jul 30 2001

Living With Latex: Where to be alert for latex
Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital

Handle with care
Ben Van Houten Restaurant Business Aug 01 2000

Allergenic Cross-Reactivity of Latex and Foods
Greer Labs Technical Bulletin #10 Jan 05 2000

Latex Allergy: Another Real Y2K Issue
Lisa M. Jennings, RN CRRN Rehabilitation Nursing Jul/Aug 1999

Potential for Allergy to Natural Rubber Latex Gloves and other Natural Rubber Products
OSHA Technical Information Bulletin Apr 12 1999

Looking Out for Latex
Sandra A. Holmes Science and Children Feb 1999

The Vow of Silence
Marianne McAndrew Journal of Nursing Administration Feb 1999

The legal implications of latex allergy
Peter Kohn RN Jan 1999

Latex Allergy: Everyone’s Concern
Lawrence D. Duffield, DDS Journal of the Michigan Dental Association Jun 1998

Allergen Content of Latex Gloves.
A Market Surveillance Study of Medical Gloves Used in Finland in 1997

Palosuo, Turjanmaa, & Reinikka-Railo

User Facility Reporting Bulletin
selected articles FDA Fall 1997

Latex Allergy Alert
Christine Ozment Exceptional Parent Oct 1997

Latex gloves hand health workers a growing worry
Margaret Veach American Medical News Oct 13 1997

Living with Latex
Lisa Legge Nursing Minnesota Aug 1997

Research Review:
Association between latex sensitization and repeated latex exposure in children

Victoria M. Steelman RN, PhD(c), CNOR AORN Journal Jul 1997

Latex allergy: How safe are your gloves?
Kenneth K. Meyer, MD, FACS and Donald H. Beezhold, PhD
American College of Surgeons Bulletin Jul 1997

User Facility Reporting Bulletin
FDA Spring 1997

Latex allergy among staff poses major headache for hospitals
Meredith Goad Press Herald Portland, ME May 06 1997

Oregon picks up latex glove controversy
Patrick O’Neill The Oregonian Portland, OR Apr 21 1997

Facilities react to growing number of allergies to latex
Linda L. Mullen South Bend Tribune South Bend, IN Apr 13 1997

Growing number of HCW’s developing dangerous reactions to latex
Liz Kowalczyk The Patriot Ledger Quincy, MA Apr 01 1997

Shriners Hospital Stops Using Latex
Pat Cahill Springfield Union Springfield, MA Mar 07 1997

Latex Allergy and Contraception
The Contraception Report Patient Update Mar 1997

Is Latex Paint Hazardous To Latex Allergy Sufferers?
Don Groce Latex Allergy News Oct 1996

Cotton, Nylon, Lycra Spandex and Allergies
Don Groce Latex Allergy News Sep 1996

Paving, Asphalt, Tires & Latex Allergies
Don Groce Latex Allergy News Aug 1996

Special Bulletin: Latex Allergy
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Q & A: Latex Allergies
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Preguntas y Respuestas: Alergias al Látex
Asociación Americana de Alergia, Asma e Inmunología

Latex Allergy Survival Kit
Nancy Mitchell 1996

Downloadable/Printable Latex Allergy Signs
For personal, non-commercial use only

Pre-1996 FDA documents
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