Since I went to all the trouble of typing this for another thread, I'm going to repost it here. I hope it reassures some parents who are concerned about this issue. From [i]Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies[/i] by Scott Sicherer, head of the food allergy research program at Mt. Sinai:
"Casual exposure to food allergens from skin contact or by smell is probably one of the most worrisome notions, engendering much more stress than is truly warranted. Most research studies and clinical experience show that severe reactions occur from ingestion and not from skin contact or breathing fumes. In these situations [where proteins are aerosolized], most reactions to airborne food proteins are similar to a cat-allergic individual's contact with a cat. Symptoms may be hay fever - like itchy eyes and nose and runny nose or an asthmatic response, if the allergic individual has asthma, unlike in severe anaphylaxis where blood pressure can drop. Airborne peanut proteins near peanut butter are harder to detect. My research group had thirty highly peanut-allergic children sniff peanut butter for ten minutes and none reacted." pp. 21-22, for those reading along.
And, from p. 48: "Medical literature on this subject reveals that common reactions from air exposure typically occur while food is being cooked because cooking releases food-protein particles into the air. In these situations, one can usually see the steam rising from the food. Respiratory reactions are typical, such as hay fever symptoms of red, itchy eyes, runny nose, and then coughing and wheezing. These symptoms are usually no different form reactions to other airborne allergens." p. 48
Incidently, there's another section in the book about the myth of food allergies getting worse over time. It's a good read.
P.S. if your child has a severe inhalation allergy and you want to express your outrage, please direct it toward Dr. Sicherer ([email protected]), not me. Thank you.