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When planning a meal for a playdate or birthday party, it seems you always have to be aware of a food allergy for at least someone in you child’s friend group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies affect an amazing 15 million people. Between 1997 and 2007, the figure rose a full 18%, leading researchers to ask what was causing such a rapid increase in illness. A report published in the December issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology said that dichlorophenol-containing pesticides could be to blame. The chemical, which is found in pesticides and also used to chlorinate water, has been linked with food allergies when found in the human body.

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Most commonly found in tap water, pesticides, and weed killers, dichlorophenol is showing up in our bodies and possibly causing sensitivities to food.  “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., the study’s author. “Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States,” she said. “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.”

The study goes on to say that avoiding tap water altogether will not provide complete assurance of not coming into contact with dichlorophenols. Other sources, such as pesticide treated fruits and vegetables may play a larger role in creating a food allergy. While the study is not conclusive evidence of a link between allergies and tap water, it is a new lead in an ever growing mystery concerning the trend towards food sensitivities.

Via Mother Nature Network/ Science Daily