Pet-Free Students Lower Classroom Allergy Triggers
Asking students to either change clothes when arriving at school or give up furry pets appears to reduce the amount of classroom allergy triggers by up to six-fold, new research reports.
Asking students to either change clothes when arriving at school or give up furry pets appears to reduce the amount of classroom allergy triggers by up to six-fold, new research reports. These findings show that school administrators can take steps to help protect allergic students, the authors note. However, they add that asking kids to give up pets was “less accepted” than having them change clothes before coming to class. Research has shown that classrooms can accumulate levels Fel d 1, the substance that triggers symptoms in students allergic to cats. And the more cat owners there are, the more rife classrooms are with Fel d 1. Previously, the investigators, led by Anne-Sophie Karlsson of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, found that increased cleaning in classrooms, removing upholstery and curtains and replacing bookshelves with cupboards did little to reduce the amount of airborne Fel d 1. Taking another tactic, this time Karlsson and her team compared levels of Fel d 1 in six different classrooms over a six-week period. In two classrooms, children changed into different clothing when arriving at school, and stored their home and school clothes in separate lockers or in plastic bags. In another classroom, none of the children had furred pets or birds at home. The room was also equipped with an air cleaner. After six weeks, the investigators found that the amount of airborne Fel d 1 was between 4 and 6 times lower in classrooms where students either gave up house pets or changed their clothing. “For the first time, it has been shown that levels of airbourne cat allergen can be reduced by allergen avoidance measures at school by using school clothing or pet ownership ban, and that both measures are equally efficient,” Karlsson and her colleagues write in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Moreover, in classrooms where no intervention was taken, children with cats had three times more Fel d 1 on their clothing than children without cats. “This finding suggests that a child allergic to pets should not be seated close to pet owners, even in an allergen-avoidance class,” they add. (Source: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Reuters Health, June 2004)