If you work in a bakery or a restaurant that bakes from scratch or if someone in your home bakes with wheat flour, you should know that flour (and therefore gluten) gets in the air and can be a risk to your health.
Flour is light enough that is goes flying when doughs and batters are mixed, and the small flour particles hang in the air. You might be wondering if flour in the air can cause a gluten reaction.
Can flour in the air cause a gluten reaction?
I believe that flour in the air can cause a gluten reaction. Here’s why.
For those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, gluten causes a reaction in the digestive tract. That means that breathing gluten into your lungs shouldn’t cause a reaction. The problem is that when you breath it in through your mouth and nose, those particles of flour can become trapped in your saliva and mucus and then be swallowed. At that point it enters your digestive system.
That is one reason that I removed all wheat flour from my kitchen and have not baked with it since I went gluten free. In their bulletin, Producing Gluten-Free Products in a Non-Dedicated Kitchen, the Gluten Intolerance Group says that flour can hang in the air up to 24 hours. That’s a long time.
One time my gluten-free son went to a friend’s house. That friend’s mom does a lot of baking, and that particular day she had really done a lot of baking. My son didn’t eat anything while he was there. Later that evening and the next morning he had diarrhea, one of his typical reactions. We went over everything he had eaten, and nothing seemed to be questionable. It is likely he was reacting to gluten that got into his digestive tract from the flour that was in the air at his friend’s house.
Another reason that I don’t bake with wheat flour and don’t recommend that anyone does if there is a gluten-free person in the house (whether it is the baker or not), is that flour in the air eventually settles on surfaces. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to do, but I think it would be very difficult to make sure that all flour is always cleaned up from appliances, work surfaces, eating surfaces, etc.
Another way gluten might get in the air
There is no doubt about it when you use aerosol sprays that the substance gets in the air as well as where it was intended to go. I really don’t like aerosols, but for some reason I got hooked on a particular aerosol hair spray that I used for months. One day I thought to read the ingredients and found that it contained wheat flour lipids. Trust me, I am kicking myself for not checking that sooner.
Consider checking the ingredients on any aerosols or other types of sprays you have.