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It's official! On Jan. 5, 2021, the president signed the School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act into law.

Thank you to our community. Your efforts helped to get this bill signed into law, which will help thousands of students with asthma and allergies and their families nationwide.

Many children are affected by asthma and allergy triggers at school, such as mold, dust mites and strong cleaning chemicals. But Mark Jones can tell you firsthand that teachers can be affected too.

Mark’s first experience with allergies was at age 11. He was diagnosed with allergies and started immunotherapy (allergy shots). At 21, he had his first experience with asthma.

“In June of that year, I got sick and was having some problems breathing,” Mark recalled. “I was taking summer classes and went home to work on the weekends, so I was going to wait to go to my family doctor on Friday. But by Thursday, after being sick for three days, I could hardly walk 10 feet without being so out of breath that I felt like I had to stop. So I called the doctor on campus, and they were able to get me in quickly. The doctor said I was having an asthma attack, and I had probably been having them over the last three days and I was lucky to be alive.”

With asthma and allergy treatment, Mark was able to control his asthma for several years. But things changed when the school he taught at moved his class to an older building.

“Before we moved into the building, they did remodel most of it,” Mark said. “But after we moved in, we realized there was mold that was painted over, and there were still several leaks. After being in the building for six months, I was on two daily asthma medicines and was still using my [quick-relief] inhaler more than I ever had.”

The conditions of the school building eventually caused Mark to miss two months of work. He knew it was time to look for a new job.

“After being out of the building for three months, I was down to one daily asthma medicine and rarely using my [quick-relief] inhaler,” said Mark.

Sadly, due to aging buildings, many schools contain asthma and allergy triggers that can affect students, teachers, staff and volunteers. Exposure to the triggers at the beginning of the school year also contributes to the September Asthma Epidemic, the highest month for asthma hospitalizations in children.

What Causes the September Asthma Epidemic?
When kids and faculty return to school in late August and early September, they are exposed to more asthma and allergy triggers in their school buildings and respiratory viruses. And ragweed pollen and mold spores are high this time of year. All of these factors result in a spike in emergency department visits and hospitalizations, typically around the third week of September. This is also known as "asthma peak week."

One way we can help protect students with asthma and allergies is to urge Congress to pass the School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act (HR 2468). It would encourage states to put protections and procedures into place to better support children with asthma and allergies. This would no doubt benefit many adults who work in schools as well.

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