We’ve all done it and do it all the time, but is it safe to lick envelopes? Well the issue may not necessarily concern the max of the word: “safe.” The word “safe” could mean different things to different people, as what they perceive to be safe is determined on their level of risk tolerance. But whatever your risk tolerance, there are some concerns relating to your health that you may not be aware of or have considered:
Contamination: This has much to do with the setting that you are in and/or the area that the envelopes are stored in. If you work in a public setting, the chances of contamination are generally considered high by the American Society for Microbiology**. Think about it… Just from the air alone, there are threats of dust mites and allergens sticking to the glue surface area. If people touch the envelopes to move them or shuffle through a drawer, etc…, it is of deep concern considering that ASM reports that 20% of the American public does not wash their hands after using the restroom; and many more do not after touching public devices such as door handles.
- Latex Allergy: Latex is used by many envelope manufacturers to make the sticky glue surface. There is a tiny percentage of people who are allergic to latex. But even of those who are allergic to latex, licking a single envelope is generally not considered to be a known significant threat. But this has not been thoroughly researched.
- Infestation: Though seemingly rare, there have been some reported cases of tiny pests that have laid eggs on the sticky surface. Dust mites have also been known to feed and lay eggs on the glue.
- Paper Cuts: This one is rather obvious, but consider being cut combined with the threat of contamination or infestation… It produces a higher risk of infection.
Contamination and infestation can occur either at the end users storage area, or it could have happened all the way back in the manufacturers facility or various storage and shipping areas along the way to the store, and at the store where sold.
The Advice Watch best analogy of the topic: Just buy an envelope moistener pen. They generally only cost about $ 2 or 3 dollars and are available at office supply stores. Some of them have an additional adhesive to make an even stronger bond if desired.