The widespread use of so-called dustless chalk may trigger allergy and asthma symptoms in students that have a milk allergy, say researchers in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
They explain that casein, a milk protein, is often used in low-powder chalk. "Chalks that are labeled as being anti-dust or dustless still release small particles into the air," said Carlos H. Larramendi, lead author of the study. "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 around 300,000 children in the United States. Although it was believed the majority of children outgrow milk allergies by age three, recent studies contradict this theory, showing school aged children are still affected.
The researchers say that chalk isn't the only item in a school setting that can cause problems, as milk proteins can also be found in glue, paper, and ink.
Larramendi suggests that parents with milk allergic children should ask to have their child seated in the back of the classroom where they are less likely to inhale chalk dust.
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Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology