Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Is dustless chalk really all it claims to be?

Some kids really are allergic to school, or at least, to their classrooms!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

And on the hidden dangers of chalkboards.  Remember writing on the blackboard and getting chalk all over yourself?  That’s why they came up with dustless chalk.  But, according to researchers from Alicante, Spain, dustless chalk isn’t really dustless … and it can cause real problems.  

Carlos Larramendi and colleagues found that chalk labeled as “dustless” still releases small particles into the air. When those particles are breathed in by children with milk allergies?  They can cause congestion, sneezing, shortness of breath, runny noses, even asthma attacks. Milk?  Chalk?  What’s the connection?

Turns out the milk protein casein is among the particles released.  And despite modern technology, chalk is still found in most classrooms around the globe.  Oh boy.

Wait—there's more:  Just switching to white boards may not help entirely.  That's because chalk isn’t the only classroom product to contain milk proteins.  They can also be in glue, ink, and paper.

Of course, this is not a problem for all children.  Just in case my kids are taking notes.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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