I have a severe latex allergy which hinders my health every day via hives, inflammation, and breathing trouble. I am trying to find a cell phone that is not going to cause anaphylaxis or other reactions. Neither smartphones nor their companies are smart enough to know what their products are made of.

I know from wheelchair experience that polyurethane bothers me. I believe it has latex or a latex-like component in its make-up, but I would like to clarify this.

It appears by touch that polycarbonate is not as bad, but it just depends on the item in question...and usually I have already reacted to something else before trying to touch this.

Could you verify/explain if polycarbonate or polyurethane have latex? For that matter does polyethylene?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You should perhaps consider looking for a silicone case. Silicone is completely synthetic and inert. This should not carry risk of an allergic reaction. $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Dec 15, 2015 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ @A.K. Thank you very kindly. That was another material I was unsure of. I will look into finding and trying one. $\endgroup$
    – Lisa
    Dec 18, 2015 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ @GeoffHutchison Thank you very kindly for answering and providing this information. You are correct, I am and was not asking a medical question nor medical advice. I am, in all honesty, working to learn more about materials and to educate myself about what to avoid and watch for with my severe allergy. The quest is daunting, to say the least, and help is often far away or, though filled concern and compassion, lacks the knowledge required... $\endgroup$
    – Lisa
    Dec 18, 2015 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ @GeoffHutchison Polymers are so much a part of our daily lives these days that it is difficult if not impossible to avoid them. And, the manufacturer who strives to be helpful, caring, considerate, and honest about how and what their product is made of is a rare gem. Speaking of a welcomed treasure... this site must be one. It is wonderful to have received an answer and help in gaining more of an understanding. May I add that it is also greatly appreciated that a chemist uses common sense and puts things plainly for the rest of us to understand and educate ourselves. Thank you very Kindly. $\endgroup$
    – Lisa
    Dec 18, 2015 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Lisa If you feel that way I hope you will join some of the other communities and ask and answer questions in the future. Here you don't need to know everything about everything, just something about something, and you will typically relearn things you have forgotten. Enjoy! $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Dec 19, 2015 at 0:04

3 Answers 3


We have a general rule against "medical questions," but I think yours is different.

First off, latex is a form of poly-isoprene. The "isoprene" part here is the key chemical identity - the letter (so to speak) that repeats in the polymer.

So latex is chemically quite distinct from polyurethane and polycarbonate. Similarly, polyethylene and polypropylene are also distinct.

In short, from a chemical perspective, all of these materials are all different.

Now, that's not to say that:

  • You may have allergies to multiple polymers / plastics.
  • Manufacturers may blend multiple chemical components into one object.
  • Some latex residue may end up on various objects.

For example, many people in healthcare (as you know) use latex gloves, often with latex powder. Small amounts of the latex powder can remain on a wheelchair - causing problems for sensitive individuals like yourself.

If you're looking for a smartphone, you should be able to find one with a metal / glass case (e.g., iPhone, but also others). In that case, the amount of plastic (polymer) should be minimal and you (or a friend) can thoroughly wipe down the device before you use it (e.g, the wrapping plastic might cause sensitivity).

  • $\begingroup$ I believe with the mistake wheelchair hand rims, that the polyurethane had been blended with rubber/latex. That's why I was curious if polyurethane is always this way or just may be depending on the product. Thank you for explaining. I gather, now, that this is a possibility not the rule. $\endgroup$
    – Lisa
    Dec 18, 2015 at 23:51

I have a severe latex allergy, what you're reacting to in the wheelchair armrest is the FOAM inside. Most foam contains latex. So if the foam is compressed, it puts some particles air borne that you're inhaling. I think you can get latex free wheelchairs/armrests, you have to look for it though.


I have a latex allergy and reacted to a charging cable - the manufacturer told me afterwards (when issuing my refund) that their PU was mixed with latex but that this isn’t always the case.

I would also agree with another comment that foam, especially low density foam, has latex in it (think make up sponges), the glue in some plasters does and also the shine on gloss paper is made by adding latex to the coating.

Good luck negotiating all the ways it’s in life, Nina xx


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