Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that has been deemed safe for use in various consumer products. However, questions have been raised about the potential hazards associated with neoprene, including its toxicity, the presence of lead, and its carcinogenic properties. This section will explore these concerns in more detail.

Does Neoprene Contain Latex?

Neoprene does not contain latex. However, people with a sensitivity to latex may experience a similar allergic reaction to neoprene due to the similar chemical structure. Contact dermatitis, a type of skin irritation, is often reported as a post-neoprene allergic reaction. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) named neoprene the 2009 allergen of the year. Whether neoprene is safe on skin somewhat depends on how sensitive the individual’s skin is.

Does Neoprene Contain Lead?

Lead is not a component of neoprene’s chemical structure. However, the production process and potential additives used during the manufacturing of neoprene products could introduce the possibility of trace amounts of contaminants, including lead and carbon black, a harmful chemical used to give neoprene its black color. It is recommended to look for products that comply with relevant safety standards and regulations, like OEKO-TEX certification, to avoid any potential exposure to lead.

Is Neoprene Carcinogenic?

Chloroprene, the base of neoprene, is classified as a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), a chemical class commonly associated with cancer. As of now, the EPA has not deemed neoprene or chloroprene as carcinogenic. However, concerns about the potential for carcinogenic compounds, dyes, or coatings to be present in neoprene fabric may arise due to the manufacturing process or additives used. California Proposition 65 has dubbed chloroprene a carcinogen, though it admits that wearing neoprene material is unlikely to be enough to cause enough exposure to chloroprene to be of any danger. The greatest danger of neoprene is that which it poses for those regularly exposed to chloroprene, like factory workers and those near manufacturing locations. Acute exposure to high concentrations of neoprene may lead to respiratory irritation, fatigue, headache, and dizziness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) correlates skin and lung cancer with chloroprene, particularly for those who work directly with the substance.

In conclusion, while neoprene may be safe to wear, it is certainly not safe to manufacture. The potential for exposure to harmful chemicals and the associated health risks is a concern for those regularly exposed to neoprene, like factory workers. It is recommended to look for neoprene products that comply with relevant safety standards and regulations to minimize any potential risks associated with neoprene.