Water purifier chlorine 'increases food allergy risk'

Water purifier and allergy

Chlorine - used to help purify drinking water - may put you at a higher risk of food allergies, according to a new study.

Researchers have found that people exposed to high levels of dichlorophenols, produced when chlorine is added to water to ensure it is free of bugs, tend to be more prone to food allergies too.

"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 from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York 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," said Jerschow.

Among 10,348 participants in a US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006, 2,548 had dichlorophenols measured in their urine and 2,211 were included into the study.

Food allergy was found in 411 of these participants, while 1,016 had an environmental allergy.

While opting for bottled water instead of tap water might seem to be a way to reduce the risk for developing an allergy, according to the study such a change may not be successful.

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

The study was published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

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