www.cbsnews.com - December 5th, 2012
More Americans have food allergies than ever before, and a new study suggests chemicals in tap water may be partially to blame.
"Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States," study author Dr. Elina Jerschow, an assistant professor of allergy and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said in a press release. "The results of our study suggest these two trends might be linked, and that increased use of pesticides and other chemicals is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies."
Researchers analyzed more than 10,000 Americans who were part of an ongoing U.S. survey of health and nutrition. They analyzed their urine levels and found more than 2,200 patients had measurable levels of dichlorophenols in their urine. That's a chemical used in pesticides and weedkillers, which is also used to chlorinate drinking water.
The researchers reported of those with measurable levels of dichlorophenols, 411 people had a food allergy and more than 1,000 had an environmental allergy, such as to pollen. People with the highest levels of the chemicals in their urine were more likely to have an allergy than those with the lower levels.
"Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy," said Jerschow.