Goal 4: Identify and reduce common asthma triggers within the school environment.
Schools environments can expose students with asthma to many known asthma triggers. Asthma triggers are individualized. That is not all triggers affect everyone with asthma in the same way. Often schools are afraid to discuss asthma triggers in fear that removal of the triggers will be costly and that the school will be held accountable for exacerbating asthma. Typically, individual schools do not have funds for renovations and remediation nor do they have access to funds at the Board level for these activities.
There are several activities and hints to keep in mind when working with schools:
- Remind school personnel that the Student's Asthma Management Plan identifies triggers for each individual student with asthma.
- Let schools know about and support the use of Health Canada's Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools Action Kit
- Provide copies of the trigger checklist to help identify possible triggers in classrooms and around the school.
- Promote ongoing monitoring of asthma triggers and taking action to reduce exposure to asthma triggers whenever possible.
- Examples: strong smelling markers, chalk dust, perfume/cologne, furry animals, freshly cut grass, pollen, very hot or very cold temperature, poor air quality, cigarette smoke, etc.
- Encourage the use of asthma-friendly school supplies and products.
- Examples: scent-free markers, odourless cleaning products, dust-free chalk.
- When meeting with school administration, recommend they schedule building repairs and cleaning which may create dust, fumes, and other irritants at times when students are less likely to be exposed. For instance, when carpets are cleaned at the end of the school year stress the importance of keeping air circulating until the carpets are dry. Many clean the carpets and close the school building until the start of the new academic year promoting growth of mold and mildew.
- Encourage frequent hand washing to decrease the spread of infections. Explain that viral infections are one of the most common asthma triggers and a main reason for school absenteeism.
- Let the school community know that the Ontario Lung Association has an Air Quality Information Toll-free line (1-888-566-5864(lung)) for both indoor and outdoor air quality to support informational and activity related needs.