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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Resources > Ask the Allergist

Is Bottled or Tap Water Best?

Q. Does the recent rise of childhood allergies, asthma and immune disorders coincide with their consumption of bottled water instead of tap water? That is, assuming our entire tap is now slightly toxic; wouldn't that prime the kids’ immune systems, so that they are less vulnerable?

A. The timing of your question couldn't be better, as a new study in the Annals of Allergy Asthma & Immunology looked at exposure to certain chemicals found in tap water, specifically dichlorophenols which are used for water chlorination. However, their conclusions might lead to an exact opposite answer to your question! Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City used a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 people ages 6 years and older in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. They assessed the association between exposure to dichlorophenols and allergic sensitization measured by allergen-specific serum IgE levels after adjusting for sample weights and potential confounders. High urine levels (75th percentile and up) of dichlorophenols was associated with sensitization to foods. Keep in mind "sensitization" in this study does not equate to someone with a food allergy diagnosis per se, as this information is not available here. While no one knows for certain whether these chemicals are causing increasing food allergies seen in the United States, this research is indeed provocative.

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