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Asthma and Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Joint letter from the California Department of Education and the California Department of Public Health regarding asthma and indoor air quality in California schools.

, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
1430 N Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814-5901

, Director
1615 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento, CA, 95814

February 9, 2012

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:


The health of students is closely associated with academic achievement. On many occasions, we have cited asthma as a health problem that significantly affects our students. Statewide, over 13 percent of California students have been diagnosed with asthma. In some counties, nearly one in three students has been diagnosed with asthma. The impacts of asthma include missed school days, disruption of sleep and daily activities, lower academic performance, urgent medical visits for asthma
exacerbations, and even death.

Asthma exacts a serious annual financial toll on California schools. Asthma-related absences result in over $30 million in lost revenue each year. While there is no cure for asthma, with appropriate medications and proper management, students can control symptoms and experience minimal disruption of their daily lives.

The California Schools Environmental Health and Asthma Collaborative, of which the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) are founding members, addresses asthma and indoor air quality in California schools. The Collaborative is developing valuable resources for school staff that will help to reduce the burden of asthma. These include brief online modules on asthma emergency care, the California asthma medication self-carry law, and indoor and outdoor asthma trigger management. The Collaborative also plans to disseminate user-friendly resources on managing asthma and improving indoor air quality in schools.

We are pleased to support the important work of the Collaborative and urge the entire kindergarten through grade twelve school community to use and benefit from its resources. Resource information can be found on the CDPH California Breathing Web site at and the CDE Guidelines for the Management of Asthma Web page at

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Linda Davis-Alldritt, School Nurse Consultant, CDE Coordinated School Health and Safety Office, by phone at 916-319-0284 or by e-mail at [Note: the previous contact is no longer valid. Please contact the Coordinated School Health & Safety Office at 916-319-0914.]; or Scott Kessler, Programs Director, CDPH Environmental Health Investigations Branch, by phone at 510-620-3643 or by e-mail at


Tom Torlakson
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education

Ron Chapman, MD, MPH
Director & State Health Officer
California Department of Public Health


Questions:   Coordinated School Health & Safety Office | 916-319-0914
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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