TUESDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Dustless chalk may cause
allergy and asthma symptoms in students with a milk allergy,
researchers have found.
Many schoolteachers use dustless chalk to keep hands and
classrooms clean. But this type of chalk often contains a milk
protein called casein, which can trigger respiratory problems in
children with a milk allergy, according to the study, which was
published in the May issue of the journal
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
"Chalks that are labeled as being anti-dust or dustless still
release small particles into the air," lead author Dr. Carlos
Larramendi said in a journal news release. "Our research has found
when the particles are inhaled by children with milk allergy,
coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath can occur. Inhalation
can also cause nasal congestion, sneezing and a runny nose."
Milk allergy affects about 300,000 children in the United
States, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and
"Chalk isn't the only item in a school setting that can be
troublesome to milk-allergic students. Milk proteins can also be
found in glue, paper, ink and in other children's lunches," Dr.
James Sublett, chairman of the ACAAI Indoor Environment Committee,
said in an organization news release.
Sublett said parents of children with a milk allergy should ask
to have their child seated in the back of the classroom, where they
are less likely to inhale particles from dustless chalk.
"Teachers should be informed about foods and other triggers that
might cause health problems for children," Sublett said. "A plan
for dealing with allergy and asthma emergencies should also be
shared with teachers, coaches and the school nurse. Children should
also carry allergist-prescribed epinephrine, inhalers or other
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