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Managing Asthma in School Environments

On this page:

Why It's Important

  • Asthma is the leading cause of children’s absence from school.
  • Numerous environmental triggers can cause asthma attacks, such as:
    • Mold, excess moisture, and dust
    • Pests and animal dander
    • Diesel exhaust
    • Chemicals in some cleaning products
  • Addressing asthma triggers can reduce the number of nurse visits and keep children focused on school work.

What You Can Do

  • Perform regular and thorough cleaning and building maintenance to help children avoid environmental triggers.
  • Avoid using cleaning products containing strong odors or fragrances that might trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Implement an integrated pest management program to reduce the risk of triggers.
  • Ensure the school has policies in place to reduce unnecessary car and bus idling.
  • EPA's Model School Environmental Health Program addresses key components that can reduce asthma triggers.


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    EPA and Federal Partners

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    National Organizations

    • Asthma Management in Schools by the American Lung Association helps families and schools manage children with asthma so they stay healthy in schools and stay ready to learn. Also, see the Open Airways for Schools program information.
    • Just for Kids by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology includes games, storybooks, videos and more to help kids learn about managing their asthma and allergies.
    • Mold, Mice and Zip Codes: Inside the Childhood Asthma Epidemic by NBC News reports on the links between asthma, poverty, and where you live.
    • State Honor Roll,  produced annually by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, identifies states with the most comprehensive and preferred statewide public policies supporting people with asthma and related allergic diseases in U.S. elementary, middle and high schools. The goal of this report is to identify state-level progress toward better school-based policies and to provide a blueprint for asthma and allergy advocates nationwide.

    State and Local Entities

    • Michigan - Schools and Asthma by the Asthma Initiative of the state of Michigan offers numerous tools to support children with asthma in schools as well as related state laws and policies and resources for school staff and parents.
    • New York - Asthma and the School Environment in New York State by the NY Department of Health summarizes research on asthma hospitalization among school-age children as well as school building conditions. The report identifies the strengths and remaining challenges of managing asthma and associated environmental factors in the school setting.