Looking For Policy on School Hand-Washing
If anybody knows of research or studies done on the use of hand-washing or wipes for all students after lunch to protect students with food allergies, please respond. Thanks.
Hand-washing is an excellent way to prevent the spread of allergens, especially in the classroom. In addition to snacks and lunches, non-food Items, such as arts and crafts, can contain traces of peanuts. Remember making a bird feeder with peanut butter and bird seed when you were a kid? Sometimes it really seems like peanuts are everywhere.
But hand-washing can help.
A study by the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, sought to detect peanut allergen under various environmental conditions and examine the effectiveness of cleaning agents for allergen removal.
The study, published by the Journal of Clinical Immunology in May of 2004, found that most household cleaners, except dishwashing liquid, remove peanut residue.
Soap and water are best. Baby wipes are preferable to hand sanitizer.
Using hand sanitizer is often viewed as an easy alternative to soap and water hand-washing, but in the case of removing peanut residue, it is not as effective as hand-washing and may just spread it around instead. In fact, this study showed hand-washing using only water left residue on three of 12 hands, while using hand sanitizer left residual allergen on six of 12 hands.
Teach your children to thoroughly wash their hands using soap and water. If your child’s classroom teacher uses hand sanitizer as an alternative to old-fashioned hand washing, consider sharing this study with him or her.
From J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 May;113(5):973-6.
Distribution of peanut allergen in the environment.
Perry TT, Conover-Walker MK, Pomés A, Chapman MD, Wood RA.
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.
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