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
"Chalks that are labelled as being anti-dust or dustless still release small
particles into the air," lead author Dr Carlos Larramendi said in a journal news
"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 in kids
Milk allergy affects about 300 000 children in the United States, according
to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
"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.
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 life-saving
The Nemours Foundation has more about milk