Allergies to foods, insect stings, medications and latex puts approximately 3%
of students at risk for severe allergic reactions. Dust mites, pollen, cockroach
droppings, molds, animal saliva, urine, and dander are common allergic triggers
that cause less severe reactions. Asthma can be exacerbated by these allergens,
by tobacco smoke, and by strong odors. Include specific environmental precautions
in allergic students' individualized health services plans. On days with high
pollen counts and/or pollution levels (e.g., smog, ozone), physical activities
for sensitive individuals may need to be conducted in a controlled indoor environment
(Appendix E). Retrofit buses and reduce idling to minimize
students' exposure to vehicle emissions. Use vinyl or nitrile
gloves, rather than latex, in handling food, in laboratories, and in caring for
To decrease fungal and pollen exposure in mechanically ventilated buildings, keep
windows closed and use efficient filters. Periodically disinfect locker rooms
because fungi often grow in moist environments. Regulate the relative humidity
of the air (e.g., via insulation, dehumidification, source
control, temperature control). Unless carpeting is necessary and unless its
composition and schedule of maintenance minimize dust, mold, and chemical irritants,
consider hard surfaces instead of carpets. Avoid unnecessary accumulation of materials
in classrooms and hallways that collect dust and harbor molds.
Limit exposure to animal allergens by minimizing animal presence in classrooms
Weigh risk of allergen exposure against risk of pesticide exposure. Implement
pest control strategies (e.g., rats, mice, cockroaches, flies mosquitoes) by controlling
food sources and moisture and by using specific pesticides or other "integrated
pest management" methods. Recognize that many staff and students are
in contact with animals and carry allergens on their clothing to school. Do not
require students with certain animal allergies to take field trips to zoos or
farms or to be exposed to animals (e.g., science projects). Because school renovations
that produce dust can aggravate asthma, schedule renovations when students are
Some districts prohibit all students from bringing a food item to school (e.g.,
nuts) when a fellow student is allergic. Although this is one management strategy
and proves useful on celebratory occasions when food is brought from homes, it
is difficult to enforce, often provides a false sense of security, and is not
recommended by the Food
Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. Setting aside a meal table for selected food
allergic students is more restrictive but generally safer than relying on all
students' parents to read food labels for hidden allergic ingredients. In addition
to the allergic child, educate all students, lunch monitors, and other staff on
ingredient avoidance. Prohibit sharing of foods and eating on buses. Keep potential
allergic foods, such as those with nuts as an ingredient, off of school food service
menus and out of vending machines.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Board of Directors. Anaphylaxis in schools and other childcare settings: position statement. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1998;102:173-176.
Institute of Medicine, Committee on the Assessment of Asthma and Indoor Air. Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures. Washington DC; National Academy Press; 2000.
Korniewicz DM, El-Masri M, Broyles JM, Martin CD, O'connell KP: Performance of latex and nonlatex medical examination gloves during simulated use. Am J Infect Control. 2002 30(2):133-8.
Rego A, Roley L. In-use barrier integrity of gloves: latex and nitrile superior to vinyl. Am J Infect Control. 1999 27(5):405-410.
Smedje G, Norback D. Irritants and allergens at school in relation to furnishings and cleaning. Indoor Air. 2001;11:127-133.
Taras H, Campana J. How one school district decided on a carpet policy. J Sch Health. 2003; 73:45.
Tortolera SR, Bartholomew LK, Tyrrell S, et al. Environmental allergens and irritants in schools: a focus on asthma. J Sch Health. 2002;72:33-38.
US Environmental Protection Agency. IAQ Tools for School Kits. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency; 2000. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/pubs.html.
US Environmental Protection Agency. Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Washington DC: US Environmental Protection Agency; 2001. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/images/moldremediation.pdf.