Chlorine in water could be major cause of food allergies

Most of us have a food allergy or intolerance—and the culprit could be the chemicals used to chlorinate the public water supply. The chemical, dichlorophenol, is also found in pesticides, which we can absorb from the air we breathe and the food we eat, say researchers.

Researchers have pinpointed the chemical as the most likely cause of f

ood allergies and intolerances after they discovered that sufferers had the highest levels of the pollutant in their body. Of the 2,211 people with high levels of dichlorophenol analysed in a survey, 411 had a food allergy—which can sometimes be life-threatening—and another 1,016 had an environmental allergy, such as hay fever.

However, it’s been estimated that half the population of the West has food intolerance—often to wheat, milk or eggs—which is a milder form of allergy where there is discomfort and difficulty in digesting the food. This, too, could be caused by the chemical.

The chemical is extensively used to chlorinate the water supply we get from our taps (faucets) and in pesticides. So, even changing to bottled water may not do the trick, say researchers from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. It’s also found on the fruit and vegetable we eat—unless, of course, you eat organic.

(Source: Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 2012; 109: 420-5).

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