Jan 21, 2013
Thousands of communities across the country and around the world add it to their water supplies to ensure that their water is safe for human exposure and consumption. But the common practice of adding chlorine chemicals to water for public safety purposes may not be as safe as we have all been told, as a recent study out of New York has linked chlorine exposure to both food and environmental allergies.
Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx made this discovery after observing a corresponding rise in both chlorine use and food allergies among varying sample populations. Based on extrapolated data compiled from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 2005-2006, the team found that existing food allergies and the rising rate of new allergies were both associated with chlorine exposures from various sources.
As it turns out, adults with high levels of dichlorophenol, a chemical by-product of chlorine, in their urine were found to be 80 percent more likely to also have a food allergy compared to adults with lower or minimal exposure levels. On the same token, those with the highest levels of dichlorophenol had a combined elevated risk rate for both food and environmental allergies of 61 percent compared to others, illustrating what appears to be a causative effect between the chlorine exposure and allergies.
Chlorine chemicals in food pesticides a leading cause of food allergies, suggests data
Though water is a primary source of chlorine exposure, and the one most people probably think of when they think of chlorine, many of the pesticides and herbicides applied to conventional produce are also laced with chlorine and chlorine byproducts. According to the researchers who compiled the study, food-based chlorine exposure may, in fact, play a greater role in causing food allergies than exposure through tap water.
“(This research) shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy,” explained study author Elina Jerschow about the findings. “(Past studies) have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States, (and 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.”
These conclusions seem to align with data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC), which says there has been an 18 percent overall increase in food allergies between 1997 and 2007. One in four children now has a food allergy, in fact, and that percentage appears to be on the rise, particularly as there are no established safety guidelines for dichlorophenol exposure.
This means it is up to parents to limit their children’s exposure to chlorine by purchasing only organic, pesticide-free produce, for instance, and choosing swimming pools that are treated with natural salt rather than chlorine. Many home water filters are also duly equipped to remove chlorine from drinking water, so be sure to use them if you and your family drink water from the tap.
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This article was posted: Monday, January 21, 2013 at 6:33 am