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3 November 2005 | Printer friendly

School safety test helps students with allergies

A checklist for allergy inspection in schools has helped hundreds of Swedish students breathe more easily.

School nurses make simple checks around the school and then complete a brief questionnaire to identify any required changes. Tasks include looking for signs of dampness on school walls, sniffing for strange or annoying smells from cleaning products or elsewhere, and checking the working order of ventilation equipment, such as effective fume cupboards in chemistry laboratories.

During 2003, “Children’s Allergy Year” in Sweden, the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association decided to extend an already successful initiative via its 1,700 “allergy representatives” in Swedish schools. By the end of the year, checklists were in operation in almost twice as many schools, from 98 at the beginning of the year to 183 at the end. An integrated survey revealed that 94% of school nurses believed the checklist improved the indoor air for allergic people.

Allergy rates appear to be high amongst Swedish children. Studies show that half of the young Swedish population have, or have had, some form of allergy. Between 5-10% school children have asthma. Unfortunately, the evaluation did not show whether children took less medicine or were less likely to miss school as a result of action taken following the monitoring exercise. However, the findings did show that school nurses found few obstacles to regular use of the checklist. All they needed was time and the support of the head teacher.

- Source: Children’s health and environment case studies summary book, World Health Organization, 2004, p. 14-16.
- Read the Checklist

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