In industrialised countries there has been an increase in the reported prevalence of atopic disease, including allergic asthma. The increase has been too rapid to have been caused by a change in the gene pool. Among the factors that have been implicated are the indoor environment, diet, vaccination programmes and the''hygiene hypothesis'' (which suggests that decreased infectious challenge during infancy predisposes to atopic allergy). There is some evidence that the highest incidence of allergy is associated with conditions where levels of pollution are comparatively low. Nevertheless, there is a prevailing view among some that chemicals in the environment enhance the development of allergic sensitisation. A careful review of this area is needed to provide the global chemical industry with a definitive position.
To commission a Workshop that will bring together scientific and clinical experts from industry, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and academia to consider specific questions regarding the relationship between chemical pollution and allergic disease. From the proceedings of the Workshop a position paper will be drafted and published.