December 3, 2012 – The increasing number of people who have developed food allergies has been tied to the chlorine in tap water, a new study has revealed. The chlorine, which treats the drinking water and is also found in household items and pesticides, might weaken some people’s food tolerance.
Researchers have found adults who have a high level of dichlorophenol, which is a chlorine by-product, in their urine are up to 80% more apt to suffer from food allergies.
In the UK, there has been a big increase in the number of food allergies over the past few years, with close to ten million adults saying they cannot eat different foods ranging from mustard to milk, although scientists think that figure could be exaggerated.
Studies have estimated that 4% of children also have food allergies. An increasing number have been diagnosed with allergies tied to common foods like wheat, cow’s milk, eggs, soya, kiwi, celery and other vegetables and fruits.
A food allergy can take different forms such as a reaction that is sudden and life-threatening called anaphylaxis or it could just create a rash that itchy like eczema. A great deal of the water supply throughout the UK has been treated with chlorine to eliminate germs, although many experts say the levels in the UK are much lower than the U.S.
UK officials believe that dichlorophenol’s source is not tap water, but household products. Strict regulations make it unlikely it is found in taps in homes in the UK. However, the source is probably in household products that have triclosan. That is found in face washes, lipsticks, toothpaste and even in kitchen utensils. Triclosan is anti-bacterial and can break down and form dichlorophenol.
In one study of 2,200 adults in the U.S., who were found to have urine that contained the chemical, 411 had a food allergy and 1,016 an environmental allergy. Excessive use of these types of chemicals could be contributing to the increases in the number of food allergies, said researchers.