Researchers Found carpets are culprits in asthma attacks. Nearly three out of every four Texas elementary school classrooms contain high levels of four or more allergens known to be triggers for asthma, researchers report. "The results strongly suggest a need to examine the school environment and design new interventions to make classrooms more asthma friendly," according to Dr. Marianna M. Sockrider, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and colleagues. Their findings were published in the December 1999 issue of "The Journal of Asthma." According to Reuters, the authors tested a new "Asthma Triggers Checklist" a questionnaire aimed at identifying the presence of asthma allergens in public schools.
The investigators used the checklist and an air quality monitor to evaluate the conditions in classrooms of 20 schools located in two urban districts in Texas. Among the findings were: some 75 percent of classrooms were carpeted, providing an ideal harbor for allergens; 10 percent had evidence of live pets; 23 percent had signs of cockroaches; 73 percent of classrooms contained four or more allergens and 87 percent contained irritants such as chalk dust, indelible markers, spray cleaners and spray deodorizers. There was evidence of inadequate ventilation in many rooms, and no schools reported a policy for airing out buildings. According to Sockrider and colleagues, the checklist is a useful screening tool for identifying asthma "problem" schools. Based on the Texas findings, they now believe that "many asthmatic children may regularly encounter triggers in their classrooms," and they call for "effective intervention strategies to minimize these exposure risks" such as better ventilation for the schools.