Fascinating study this morning, especially given the fact that a few of us have recently been discussing reactions to tap water.
Researchers have found what they believe to be a correlation between the people with the highest levels of dichlorophenols in their urine having the highest number of food allergies.
Dichlorophenols are chemicals formed when chlorine is added to tap water to kill bacteria. They are also used as a type of pesticide for foods. It may actually be that the high levels in water come from a combination of the water purification and the pesticides in the water table.
Elina Jerschow, assistant professor of allergy and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said: “Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy.
According to the World Health Organisation, there are no guidelines for dichlorophenols because there is only ‘limited’ data available. Er, we need more research then!
The study concluded that:
Sensitizations to 1 or more food allergens were more common in those with exposure to 2 dichlorophenol metabolites. After multivariable adjustment, urine dichlorophenol levels at the 75th percentile and above were associated with the presence of sensitization to foods
High urine levels of dichlorophenols are associated with the presence of sensitization to foods in a US population. Excessive use of dichlorophenols may contribute to the increasing incidence of food allergies in westernized societies.
In this case, they were looking at pure classical IgE allergies so can you imagine what that might look like if they looked at all kinds of food sensitivities. Interestingly, they didn’t seem to find the same correlation with airborne allergy and, to me, this would suggest the chemicals have an impact on the gut immune systems specifically, but that is pure conjecture, of course. I would guess that the dichlorophenols don’t only just kill the bacteria in water, but affect the delicate gut bacteria too, which sets your gut muscosal immunity and oral tolerance levels. Kill that bacteria and it should be no surprise that we lose tolerance to foods, should it?
It should also be no surprise to learn then that, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, we saw an 18% increase in food allergy between 1997 and 2007.
Experts do not feel this is just better diagnosis or recognition, but many are beginning to worry that the changes in our environment are starting to affect us. I would agree with that. You can’t just use the amount of chemicals we do and not get some consequences. It makes me SO mad, not least because it takes our choice out of the equation; they are being foisted upon us. And many of us are now suffering the consequences.
Now I do feel smug for having reverse osmosis filtered my water for the last decade :). When will they stop messing about with our food and water?
- Is This To Blame For Food Allergies? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Chlorine in tap water linked to increase in number of people developing food allergies (dailymail.co.uk)