Food allergies are on the rise, affecting 15 million Americans, pesticides and tap water could be partially to blame. High levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used in pesticides and to chlorinate water, when found in the human body, are associated with food allergies. An increase in food allergy of 18% was seen between 1997 and 2007. The most common food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish, and symptoms can range from a mild rash to a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Allergist Elina Jerschow says, "Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy. This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water.
"Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States. 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."
Using bottled water instead of tap water won't help, because "other dichlorophenol sources, such as pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables, may play a greater role in causing food allergy."
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