Your Child Might Be Allergic to Sidewalk Chalk

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Heads up, parents! Certain varieties of dust-free chalk contain casein – a milk protein that can cause severe reactions in kids who are allergic to milk. It can start with coughing, wheezing, or a runny nose, and worsen until they’re having an asthma attack.

Casein is sneaky. It’s found in certain glues, inks, and paper products that are commonly used at schools. It’s broken down somewhat during the chalk-making process, but it’s still enough to cause a reaction.

Your Child Might Be Allergic to Sidewalk Chalk | | SCRATCH OR SNIFF

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Schools tend to go for dust-free chalk because it’s thought to be cleaner, but even dust-free chalk is dusty — and a study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reported that those little particles can do serious damage if they’re inhaled.

Reading the ingredients is nothing new for allergy-moms and dads, but that super cheap chalk-in-the-bucket at your local discount store might not actually list ingredients. Here are a few types of chalk that don’t contain casein:

Crayola’s Washable Sidewalk Chalk does not include any ingredients associated with peanut, shellfish, fish, tree nut, egg, or milk allergies.

Cra-Z-Art Colored Chalk is made from calcium carbonate, and doesn’t contain casein.

Colorations Washable Sidewalk Chalk doesn’t contain casein, dairy, latex, egg, gluten, peanut, tree nut, or soy ingredients.

Wee Can Too Edible Veggie Sidewalk Chalk that’s dairy-free and wheat-free — and, uh, it’s made from fruits and vegetables, if you actually want your kids to eat their daily allotment of chalk?

H/T Science Daily

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

5 Comments to Your Child Might Be Allergic to Sidewalk Chalk

  1. I didn’t realise casein was so prevalent. Our son fortunately wasn’t really all that fussed with chalk. I’m not sure I would have even thought to check. Thanks for drawing this to our attention.
    cheers!

    • It’s certainly surprising, Lisa — who would have thought we’d need to chalk ingredients on something like chalk!?

  2. nikki

    Dustless chalk is NOT sidewalk chalk. I really wish you had stressed the difference. I see new allergy parents very upset when they come across titles of articles like this one when it’s most likely unnecessary.

    • Actually, Nikki, most sidewalk chalk is dustless. This isn’t just an issue in school settings, unfortunately. That’s why we’re encouraging parents of kids with milk allergies to check before letting their child use *any* form of chalk.

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