ANIMALS IN THE CLASSROOM
Animals in the Classroom:
Animal fur, hair, dander, body fluids, and animal waste products may cause asthma episodes/attacks or allergic reactions in some students and teachers. If an animal is present in the classroom or school, there is a possibility of direct, daily exposure to animal allergens or asthmagens. Special care can be taken to identify students with animal sensitivities. At the beginning of the school year, teachers should consult the school nurse and parents/guardians about students with animal allergies or asthma. They should also check for animal sensitivities when new students enter the class throughout the year.
The best way to control exposure to animal allergens in schools is to keep your school free of feathered, hairy or furred animals. It is important to realize that, even after extensive cleaning, pet allergen levels may stay in the indoor environment for several months after the animal is removed.
If animals are present in schools, they should be kept in cages away from classrooms, and should not be allowed to roam freely. Animals should always be kept away from upholstered furniture, carpets, and stuffed toys. Sensitive students should be seated as far away from animals and animal cages as possible. Cages should be cleaned regularly to reduce allergen levels and to ensure that cages and bedding do not become infested with parasites. Disposable gloves should be worn by the people cleaning the cages. Animals should be located away from ventilation system vents to avoid circulating allergens throughout the room or school.
For schools with animals, it is important to make sure that classrooms housing animals are frequently and thoroughly cleaned. In addition, animal allergens/asthmagens can easily travel to other areas of the school both through the air and on children who handle pets. Therefore, the entire building should be cleaned thoroughly.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: What kind of animal problems have you found during a school walkthrough investigation?
Answer: We found so many cages that were filthy that animals and birds are now banned from our school. Some teachers decided to have fish in their classrooms instead. Now we have aquariums that either smell because they aren’t cleaned or leak all over carpeting. We’ll have to establish strict policies about maintaining fish tanks.
Question: If feathered, hairy or furred animals are not allowed in your school, what other types of non-human classroom pets have managed to appear in classrooms?
Answer: We have hermit crabs, snakes, turtles, fish, frogs and giant Madagascan cockroaches in our building.
Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics Web site:
American Lung Association Asthma & Children Fact Sheet:
American Lung Association Controlling Asthma Triggers:
Centers for Disease Control Healthy Youth – Creating an Asthma-FriendlySchool:
EPA TfS IAQ Reference Guide Appendix D – Asthma:
EPA Asthma and Pets:
EPA Indoor Environmental Asthma Triggers:
EPA “Dusty the Asthma Goldfish and His Asthma Triggers Funbook”:
EPA Managing Asthma in the School Environment: