Often I get asked about the risk of protein from peanuts, tree nuts or seeds becoming aerosolized, thus leading to a severe allergic reaction.
How many of you have been asked if you carry any of those when boarding a plane, as there is someone severely allergic to one of them?
I have spent many hours trying to explain to airline staff that there is no danger and asking if they have cleaned their planes in between flights to prevent protein transfer. The reason being this IS why people get an allergic reaction.
Naturally, I have been told they have to follow the rules and totally discard my opinion on the matter.
I have written to airlines, discussing the above and have never received a reply.
They don’t want to accept their guilt in the process and don’t want to acknowledge research based evidence.
So let me start with the best evidence possible.
So far, there is no evidence of dust or protein being released from eating already shelled peanuts or tree nuts.
Jin et al. also proved the existence of Ara h2 (one of the main peanut proteins) on the uncleaned surfaces of the aeroplane.
As such, the only chance of it getting aerosolized is if someone near you sneezes or coughs at you while eating whatever you are allergic to.
Naturally, what applies to aeroplanes will apply to any means of public transportation, some of which allergic people use daily, like buses, trains, underground and cabs.
Saying that, it seems there is less concern regarding those, despite the fact some have their interior cleaned more often.
But how much is needed to trigger an allergic reaction?
Studies have shown that less than 5% of peanut allergic subjects develop objective symptoms to ingestion of less than 1.5-1.95mg of peanut protein (1mg = 100000nanograms).
My best advice for those who travel and are worried about the risk of a serious allergic reaction would be:
Please remember the higher risk of allergic reaction is due to a contaminated surface.
Always be careful, be vigilant and try to prevent the situation before it arises.