A subcommittee of ASTM International has approved a new safety standard for natural rubber latex that, so far, only one company can pass.
The standard-which covers concentrated, ammonia-preserved, creamed and centrifuged natural rubber latex-will appear shortly on the ASTM Web site, according to Yulex Corp., producer of hypoallergenic NR latex from the desert shrub guayule.
The standard defines a new Category 4 natural rubber latex that contains less than 200 micrograms total protein per gram dry weight of latex and no detectable protein under the ASTM method for detecting allergy-triggering proteins in latex.
Carlsbad, Calif.-based Yulex holds the license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to commercialize the USDA-patented method of manufacturing hypoallergenic latex from guayule. The agency's field tests have shown guayule latex to be completely safe when worn or used by latex-sensitive persons.
Members of the ASTM subcommittee approved the safety standard at a December 2005 meeting. However, objections from one unidentified subcommittee mandated a full subcommittee vote.
That vote, taken May 13, was more than 80 percent in favor of the new standard, according to Yulex.
Approval of the standard is an important step forward for Yulex, because it certifies the safety and hypoallergenicity of its products, according to Yulex President Jeffrey Martin.
``Our concern was that Yulex latex would be placed on the same level as tropical latex, which has no safety standards,'' Martin said.
``We hope that customers will look at this standard and react with confidence toward Yulex products.''
Yulex has planted several thousand acres of guayule for processing, Martin said. A spring planting program is ongoing, and another planting program will commence this fall.
The company has a small commercial latex processing plant in Phoenix, and is looking at sites to build a larger facility west of Phoenix that will be closer to the company's guayule fields, he said.