Most classrooms today that use chalkboards use a low-powder chalk because it makes less of a mess. The problem with low-powder chalk is that it typically contains casein, a milk protein that can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions to children who are allergic to milk.
Milk allergy affects over 300,000 children in the United States, and while most children outgrow the allergy, some continue to be allergic through high school. A recent study found that non-dietary exposure to casein triggered positive skin and immunoglobulin E (IgE) test results.
The low-powder chalk is not the only classroom supply that contains casein. Glue, paper and ink can all have casein as an ingredient as well.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the particles from the chalk are the most common problem, as they release particles into the air. These particles can cause respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and nasal symptoms such as sneezing or congestion.
If your child has a milk allergy, it may be beneficial to ask your teacher if your child can sit in the back of the classroom, away from the chalk board. If your child has allergy symptoms that worsen at school, and has not been diagnosed with allergies, call Atlanta ENT today for an allergy consultation.
Ramie Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT