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Iowa Schools Fall Short for Children with Asthma

Iowa schools are not making the grade when it comes to providing a healthy and safe learning environment for those children with asthma or allergies. Photo credit: PixHouse.
Iowa schools are not making the grade when it comes to providing a healthy and safe learning environment for those children with asthma or allergies. Photo credit: PixHouse.
August 24, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa – As students across Iowa try to make the grade upon their return to class, new research shows schools in the state are falling short of the honor roll when it comes to protecting children with asthma or allergies.

A study from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America finds that Iowa only meets 16 of 23 core policy standards.

Larissa Kaczaniuk, the foundation’s advocacy and outreach manager, says one place where the state falls short is with outdoor air quality.

"We'd like to have a policy in place where schools will inform parents if there's going to be any kind of pesticide application outdoors,” she explains. “And also we'd like to see restrictions on bus idling – so the amount of time that school buses are allowed to sit on school grounds with the engines running, because vehicle emissions are a trigger for asthma attacks."

On the plus side, Kaczaniuk notes that Iowa passed a law earlier this year that allows schools to stock epinephrine for administration by trained school personnel and protects those people from civil liability.

Kaczaniuk says it's vital that the state make more progress toward better school-based policies, as asthma and allergies are among the leading causes of absenteeism locally and nationwide.

"We have approximately 7 million children in the country with asthma and about 6 million with food allergies,” she points out. “So it's impacting a large group of children and since they spend such a large amount of their time at school, school systems need to be able to take the steps necessary to ensure a healthy and safe learning environment."

Kaczaniuk says asthma alone leads to about 10.5 million missed school days in the U.S. each year and chronic absence does negatively affect a student's academic performance.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA