If you or your child has a peanut allergy, you’ve likely been told to avoid all contact with peanuts. But how widespread is the peanut allergen in public places? It’s difficult to know where you may be exposed to the allergen when you’re in public. Is it dangerous to be around someone who’s eating peanuts? What about the tray table on an aeroplane or a table in a restaurant that serves peanuts? Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in the US conducted a study to find out.
They used personal breathing zone samplers to test the levels of peanut allergen in the air and also took samples from tables.
- They found that while someone was shelling peanuts, the amount of the peanut allergen protein found in the air surrounding them was 1.4ng/ml.
- No trace of the allergen was found in the air of restaurants that served already shelled peanuts, though they found that the table surfaces had an average of 41.1ng/ml.
- In restaurants that had no peanuts, there was an average of 0.77ng/ml on the table surfaces.
They also tested airplane tray tables.
- They found that peanut-free flights had an average of 13.5ng/ml of the allergen.
- They also tested the trays on a flight that served peanuts and found that the was an average of 175.3ng/ml.
Finally, they also tested a library and a frozen yogurt shop.
- The library tables had an average of 0.75ng/ml.
- The toppings counter of the frozen yogurt shop had a huge 11,126.7ng/ml.
- A table at the same frozen yogurt shop had 6.2ng/ml.
So what does this mean? Avoiding the peanut allergen is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction in people who have peanut allergies. People are often advised by their doctors to avoid allergens but they are not told how much of the allergen is dangerous. From this evidence we can see that it is very difficult to avoid the allergen completely. Even places that do not serve peanut have traces on their table surfaces.
The researchers concluded that exposure to peanut allergen in public settings is most likely to come from contact with surfaces rather then by inhaling them. The levels of the allergen were much higher on the table surfaces than the levels found in the air. Casual contact with these contaminated surfaces can cause reactions in people who then touch their eyes, mouth or nose. This shows the importance of cleaning these surfaces regularly, especially for people who have a peanut allergy.
As avoiding peanuts altogether can be very difficult, it’s really important to remember to keep your adrenaline auto-injector with you at all times. Our range of adrenaline pen cases and medication bags can help make sure your injector is always on you. An allergy alert bracelet is a good idea too. Check out our peanut allergy bracelet and our special kids peanut allergy bracelet here
Disclaimer: The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Allergy Lifestyle Limited (t/a) Allergy Lifestyle) uses reasonable endeavours to check the accuracy of information provided however no warranty is given that they are error-free.