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WHEN INVISIBLE DEMONS LURK:  Getting the Stink out of Pink to Promote Asthma Safe Schools

Asthma safe schools should be the norm. But a school's critical mission is to educate students, so maybe it's not on every administrator's radar. But it should be, because by simply cleaning up a space of asthmagens, more learning can happen with the same resources. Dollar for dollar it pays off big time.


Ask any teacher and they can tell you of the benefit of having an environment conducive to learning. If your space makes students sick, how can they learn? Being mindful about creating asthma-safe schools saves districts money by reducing absenteeism and increasing student concentration - a recipe for more learning! And after all, cleaning should be healthful, not the cause of illness.

Asthmagens lurk in the unlikeliest places - like in hand soap - something literally designed to help keep you healthy. But if hand soap has fragrance, it can trigger asthma, respiratory and sinus distress, headaches, migraines and nausea - and that's not good for learning.

Starting with hand washing, a team of parents, scientists, community activists, and an LAUSD board member willing to listen, we began cleaning up the LAUSD - getting the "stink out of pink" (the infamous stinky pink soap in almost every LAUSD school) Working with the manufacturer and the LAUSD Office of Environmental Services, a new hand soap was created, that's 12,000 lbs of fragrance free soap a month that no longer triggers asthma and other ailments, and applauded by the EPA as a robust means to safeguard indoor air quality and protect children's health.

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