September 2016 |  Back-to-School with Asthma Edition

The California School Environmental Health and Asthma Collaborative
brings together education and health professionals to promote indoor and outdoor environments that maximize health and learning in schools.
Back-to-School with Asthma - Is Your Student Ready?
By Martin Lenders for the U.S. Census Bureau _the U.S. Census
By Scott Kessler

The start of the school year is an exciting time as students anticipate the year to come. In addition to assembling the usual school supplies, children with asthma and their parents will want to make additional preparations to ensure a healthy and successful year in which the children are protected and ready to learn and play.
Parents should talk with school health staff and teachers about their child's asthma and asthma triggers, and ensure that current asthma action plans and medication authorization forms are on file at school. In addition, if the child has permission from his or her parent and health care provider, he or she should carry and use asthma medications when needed at school. If the child does not have permission to self-carry and use asthma medications at school, then parents should give the school the child's quick relief inhaler and spacer to be kept in a location where it is immediately accessible in case of an asthma emergency.
By following these steps, parents can be confident that their children will be safe at school and able to participate in all activities along-side children who don't have asthma.  
Below are several resources that provide additional details and recommendations to help students with asthma enjoy a safe, active and productive school year.

The American Lung Association has recommendations about how parents, health care providers, and school health staff can effectively communicate to ensure that children with asthma stay safe and healthy at school.

This checklist from the American Lung Association provides a step-by-step guide to help parents learn about asthma and control asthma at home and school. 
This information from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology provides helpful suggestions on identifying asthma triggers, addressing exercise-induced asthma, and other preparations to protect children with asthma at school.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has information about how to properly use asthma inhalers and what forms must be on file so that the school knows how to respond if your child has an asthma attack at school.

Got Data?
How to find and use
asthma surveillance
By Meredith Millet
Asthma stakeholders often request data to increase their understanding of asthma trends, learn about asthma prevalence in their communities, and various other purposes. SEHAC is happy to provide this helpful information.
Other websites that have state and county asthma data include:
Things to know when using asthma data:
The data sources above come from telephone surveys, hospital administrative records and vital statistics records referred to as surveillance data. They can be used to describe the level of asthma problems and to make comparisons in the state or local area. These data do not explain the cause and cannot be generalized to other populations. Surveillance data are useful to:
  •  Know how big the problem is
  •  Identify vulnerable populations
  •  Decide where to apply resources and education
When using data from:
  • Telephone surveys, it is important to remember that all the data are self-reported. The surveys are only administered to a sample of the population, not everyone.
  • Hospitals, it is important to remember that they represent only the 'tip of the iceberg' of asthma-the more severe cases and the ones due to treatment or health policy failures. Also, the rates presented are visit-level rates, meaning that they represent the number of hospital visits for asthma. For example, if the asthma hospitalization rate is 9.9 per 10,000 in Sacramento, then you know that there were 9.9 asthma hospitalizations for every 10,000 people living in Sacramento that year. 
  • Zip code-level, it is important to remember that zip codes change frequently and do not have actual physical boundaries.
Examples of how you might use the data:
  • You find that in Alameda County in 2014, the percent of people ever diagnosed with asthma is 14.4% (95% CI 8.3-20.4). You can calculate 1/.144=6.9 (1 being 100% of the population over 14.4% of the population) to know that about 1 in 7 people have asthma. You might write into a grant application, "One out of every seven people in Alameda County has asthma."
  • You find that the rate of asthma emergency department visits in 2014 among school-aged children is 187.5 for West Oakland (zip code 94607) and 84 for Alameda County overall. You can calculate 187.5/84=2.2 to know that the rate in West Oakland is 2.2 times higher than Alameda County overall.
Microfiber Cloths Raise Asthma Awareness in Elementary Schools 
3rd grader cleans with microfiber. Permission to use photo granted by parent.


By Debbie Shrem

Oxford Elementary's third grade teacher, Ms. Omania, has always been committed to teaching her students about sustainability. So when a partnership opportunity with the California Department of Public Health's Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP) presented itself, she jumped at the chance.
The project request was simple: to purchase microfiber cloths, which are a very effective asthma-safer cleaning tool, to clean classroom desks and tables. The microfiber project minimized the use of products that can cause or trigger asthma, like disinfectant wipes and some other cleaning products. It also reduced paper towel waste, while raising asthma awareness.  This became one of several important lessons of the year where Ms. Omania taught her students about sustainability.
The third graders cleaned with the cloths both at home and at school, and they learned the basics of asthma, asthma triggers, and asthma prevention. Students also discussed the importance of using microfiber cloths in place of cleaning chemicals. Then, they then gave their kindergarten buddy class a set of microfiber cloths, and taught them about asthma. 

Thanks to the success of this effort, WRAPP launched a pilot microfiber project to provide teachers with cleaning cloths throughout California schools. For more information, visit: Cleaning for Asthma-Safe Schools Microfiber Pilot-Project.
3rd Annual Student-Focused Project

Look for the SEHAC Student Project Application announcement in the coming months at  
In This Issue

Asthma and Exercise  Learn about the facts and m isconceptions of asthma and exercise.
Strategies for Addressing Asthma within a  Coordinated School Health Program Strategy development, implementation and guidelines to address asthma within your school or school district.
This extensive information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , will help schools create asthma-safer environments at school.

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SEHAC Website 

Where you can find:


Asthma QuickTakes (AQT) - SEHAC's series of four-to-eight minute videos on asthma-related topics. 
Asthma Statistics-  Information about Asthma in California.
Documents and Online Resources - Extensive online information and tools.
About SEHAC- A variety of documents about SEHAC's history, current members, a membership application, and contact information.

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In the fall of 2016, SEHAC will begin accepting applications for the 3rd Annual Student-Focused Project, which provides modest funds to student groups at California K-12 schools to create asthma and environmental health education programs and present them to students and staff. 
Consider submitting application for a student project at your school. Look for the SEHAC Student Project Application announcement in the coming months at

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