Allergies remain one of the most common health problems among children in the UK. According to data, at least one in every five kids has allergic rhinitis. The rates are higher among those with asthma.
Allergy is a complex disease. Asthma, for instance, still has no official cause. What science has figured out are the possible triggers. The good news is that this condition is dynamic. It can change over time depending on factors such as exposure to allergens.
These potential triggers can be all over the environment. Children, though, spend most of their time in school. This article looks into the possible allergens present in these places. It also suggests solutions to minimise contact.
Causes of Allergies in British Schools
The common allergens in UK schools are also present in other educational institutions around the world. These can include the following:
- School supplies such as chalk
- Mould and mildew, especially in damp areas such as carpets and bathrooms
- Lab supplies such as chemicals
- Cockroaches and dust mites
- Food allergies, especially nuts
Other factors can also increase the risk of allergies. For one, students in the UK spend a lot of time of their growing-up years in schools. On the average, classes can total over 630 hours each year. Secondary students are more likely to spend a long time there.
Second, classes can begin early in the morning while children tend to sleep later into the night. The sleep deprivation can lower their immune system, making their more prone to allergies and infections.
Solutions for Schools
When it comes to controlling exposure to triggers, cleaning is non-negotiable. It’s not enough, though, for schools to sweep and mop the floors. They require professional help such as carpet cleaning services in Bromley.
The type of cleaning method depends on several factors. For example, while steam cleaning can kill off bacteria in the carpet, it can introduce moisture. It will then increase the growth of mould and mildew. To prevent that, the technique must also reduce the moisture level by as much as 98%.
Using commercial vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters might also not be sufficient. Opening these filters can release the dust and other allergens back into the environment. A more effective option is to deliver these allergens to a separate closed unit outside the building. Another option is to choose carpets properly. Those with low-pile density can be much easier to clean compared to the others.
The European Academy of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (EAACI) also has guidelines on how to identify and manage allergens in schools. Allergy UK, meanwhile, provides a self-audit. The school can use it to evaluate its existing policies or to introduce proactive measures.
Allergies might be common, but they should not be taken lightly. They can lead to severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. They can take the children out of their classes for days.
Schools can help reduce the risk of allergies among children by focusing on two essential solutions: correct cleaning and an allergy management policy.