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Airborne Gluten In The Office
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9 posts in this topic

I happen to work off site 90% of the time but once a week I have to actualy go in and sit at my desk.My desk is directly above the kitchen, I can't smell the food cooking but I seam to get sick the day after I work in the office. Not sure if it's in my head so I was wondering if there is a way to masure airborn gluten?

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Smelling or the scent of food can not make you sick.  Walking through an active bakery where flour is airborn could make you sick by inhaleing the flour particles, and swallowing.

 

Smelling something gluteny cooking does have the "creep out" factor for some :rolleyes: .But it won't get you sick.

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I think I am reacting to foods airborne.  I bloat and swell.  I am trying to define these reactions, but I don't know just why they occur.

 

I do know that small pieces of things are in the air and our noses pick up on them.

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Do they use flour in the kitchen?  Could it be getting into the air handling system?  Does anyone use your desk when you are not at work?  Could anyone be eating gluten at your desk when you aren't there and be leaving little crumbs behind?   Does anyone else use your computer or phone?  Do you do anything else different when you go to work at the office?  Do you drink the coffee there?  How do you get to work?  Is there anything different there?  Do you walk through a bakery to get to work?  Are you careful to wash your hands when you leave work?

 

Could you temporarily sit somewhere else to see if it makes a difference?

 

I don't think that there is a validated way to measure airborne gluten, but I could think of how one could be done using a similar procedure as the one used to measure radon in a basement.

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They do use flouer in the kitchen, and our ventilation system isn't that great. I'm the only one that uses the desk. This whole gluten thing is difficult to nail down.

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Smells are small particles of the substance that you smell. The threshold for our noses being able to pick up smells is very, very small. Chlorine, for instance, has a detection threshold of 0.01ppm, and it's one of the highest on this table of odors. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1963A.pdf. This is well below the 20ppm for most celiacs and villous atrophy. However, our noses don't have great threshold detection for smells, so I suppose it's possible that the baking upstairs is well above the lowest level of odor necessary to smell it, possibly high enough for you to react. Also, I guess baking bread isn't so much the smell of flour but of the chemical reactions involved in the baking.

Scents definitely can make you ill, that's why lots of places adopt a 'no scents' policy. I get headaches from most perfumes (and everything they're in), for instance. I know that noxious fumes that we smell as noxious will end up signalling that they're toxic, and it's a unique neuronal pathway to pretty much the rest of smells. Eg: bleach. I suspect that scents that people have issues with (like horrible migraine inducing fake vanilla, blargh!) end up signaling the toxic pathway.

 

I hear that reactions to photocopier/printer ink fumes in offices are fairly common. It's supposed to play a role in some forms of cancer too, IIRC, 0.o

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I do not accept the comparison to chlorine as valid.

Chlorine is an element which, in its free form, Cl2, consists of two atoms bonded together. It is inorganic in the chemical sense. It is a gas at room temperature.

Gluten, on the other hand, is a very large, complex organic compound, which is part (but only part) of the substances that make up wheat. It is a solid a room temperature. The odor is carried on smaller molecules--you don't need to inhale whole gluten molecules to smell bread baking.

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I'd be less concerned about airborn flour, and more concerned about gluten on doorknobs, copiers, books, etc from people handling them without washing their hands.  Also possible that you're getting a layer of flour on your desktop.  Probably not enough to matter, unless you rarely use your deskand it has a chance to build up.

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Thanks for all the replies. I think I'll start by cleaning up the surface of my desk, there are times I don't sit there for several weeks so thing could be building up.

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