Virtually every topic was on the table when leaders in the latex field got together July 30.
Two panels-one dealing with natural, the other synthetic latex-covered a broad range of questions at the International Latex Conference session.
On the synthetic side, the first question fielded by the panel was whether styrene-butadiene could be beneficial when incorporated into natural or other latices.
``When dipping and blending natural rubber latex or when it is used as a filler, we don't get enhanced properties from the material,'' said panelist John Varos of Guardian Manufacturing Corp.
Volker Erb of PolymerLatex GmbH & Co. commented that using large quantities of latex for dipping may economically benefit the polymer side, but in general the process hasn't been very effective.
``Most of our work in blending or dipping is that you get the worst of each of the material's properties,'' said another panelist, Fred Seebode of North Safety Products Inc.
The group also compared the shelf lives of SR and NR latex.
Randy Tuck of Maxxim Medical Inc. said the processing of synthetics gives them a longer shelf life. On the other hand, natural rubber latex that is compounded must be used within a certain time frame.
``With synthetic latex, we use fatty acids that have a PH sensitivity, and to allow for a longer shelf life we use larger concentrates of that,'' said Morgan Sibbald of Goodyear Chemical Co.
A topic for the natural latex panelists discussed was latex allergies and their effect on the general population.
``It's good to know about latex allergies, and people are becoming more aware of the issue,'' according to Esah Yip of the Malaysian Rubber Export Council. ``People are tending to move away from high-protein latex powdered gloves.''
She said that while some people are switching to synthetic or polyvinyl chloride gloves, those materials don't give the necessary protection. U.S. regulations governing glove quality are becoming stricter, she noted.
Frank Perrella of Tillotson Healthcare Corp., said the industry should be careful when interpreting data from latex studies because some of the information can be misleading.
A Center for Disease Control study found that out of 1,000 subjects, 18 percent showed a reaction to latex, but the center said there was a high probability the minority had a reaction to the IgE antibodies that comprise the latex, and not to the material itself.