Genetically Modified Enzymes Used in Household Products Seen as "Potent Allergens" — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
September 22, 2016

Genetically Modified Enzymes Used in Household Products Seen as "Potent Allergens"

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD

Genetically modified enzymes — used increasingly to create flavors and fragrances and to enhance the strength of detergents and medications — appear to be "potent allergens" for the industrial workers exposed to them, according to a pilot study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Researchers tested blood samples for IgE antibodies from some 800 people exposed to enzymes in factories where they work. Roughly one-quarter of participants tested positive for antibodies against their particular workplace enzymes. In a subgroup of workers for whom clinical data were available, 17% reported wheezing/asthmatic dyspnea and 19% reported rhinitis/conjunctivitis associated with their jobs. Participants with higher antibody levels were more likely to report such symptoms.

Sensitization was particularly common for workers exposed to enzymes used in cleaning and home-care products.

The authors conclude: "Enzymes should be tested like any other potentially hazardous chemical."

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