Environmental Protection

Food Allergies May be Caused from Pesticides in Tap Water

According to a new study, pesticides currently used in treatment processes for tap water could be to blame for food allergies that afflict 15 million Americans.

In a new study published in the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), high levels of dichlorophenol, a chemical that is used to chlorinate water and in pesticides, have been found to create food allergies when found in the human body.

“Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy,” said allergist Elina Jerschow, M.D., M.Sc., ACAAI fellow and lead study author. “This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water.”

During the study, 10,348 participants in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Survey, 2,211 allowed their dichlorophenol levels to be measured from their urine. Of those tested, 411 participants had some form of food allergy and 1,016 had an environmental allergy.

“Other dichlorophenol sources, such as pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables, may play a greater role in causing food allergy,” said Dr. Jerschow.

Food allergy symptoms can range from a mild rash to a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. The ACAAI advises everyone with a known food allergy to always carry two doses of allergist prescribed epinephrine. A delay in using epinephrine is common in severe food allergic reaction deaths.

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