An Auckland primary school has pulled therapeutic diffusers from the classroom after a high court threat from a parent who said the essential oils could trigger asthma attacks.

On Wednesday, Milford Primary School on Auckland's North Shore put diffusers in 20 classrooms with oil blends designed to "stop the spread of viruses and keep children focused at school".

That evening the school board received a letter threatening High Court action from a parent who is also a lawyer.

Milford Primary School has packed away their newly purchased essential oil diffusers following the threat of legal action from a parent. Photo / 123RF
Milford Primary School has packed away their newly purchased essential oil diffusers following the threat of legal action from a parent. Photo / 123RF

Auckland barrister Tim Rainey, who has a son at the school, said he took action because there was no consultation with parents before the decision was made to use diffusers in the classrooms.

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He spoke to his son's teacher on Wednesday morning and she agreed not to use the diffuser in class that day.

But he said it was not a long-term solution and had spoken to other parents who were also concerned.

Rainey said the first he heard of the diffusers was in a newsletter earlier in the month that said there would be an information evening about the product.

The diffusers and oils - supplied by multi-level marketing business dōTERRA - work by dispersing a mist of water and essential oils into the air to be inhaled and easily absorbed by the body.

"This decision has been made without any consultation with parents and without obtaining parental consent," he said.

Rainey said some essential oils, such as wild orange and cinnamon-bark, used in the dōTERRA OnGuard Blend, were irritants for people with allergies and asthma.

In a letter to the Board of Trustees, Rainey said he wanted the diffusers removed immediately.

"If the board is not prepared to confirm that this experiment will cease by 9am tomorrow, I will commence proceedings in the High Court seeking an injunction to restrain the school from continuing to expose students to this risk," he stated.

"Given the urgency of the situation, I may make that application without notice."

Auckland father and lawyer Tim Rainey said the use of essential oils in classrooms could trigger asthma attacks. Photo / Supplied
Auckland father and lawyer Tim Rainey said the use of essential oils in classrooms could trigger asthma attacks. Photo / Supplied

He said the school's decision to use oils that could harm one student to help others was the same as "making everyone eat a peanut butter sandwich because someone said it was brain food".

"Neither the school nor I have any idea what effect the use of these essential oils will have on him or any of his classmates," he said.

At a PTA meeting in March this year, $2000 was approved to purchase 20 diffusers and two different blends of essential oils from dōTERRA.

School principal Sue Cattell told the Weekend Herald the legal letter was the first negative contact she had regarding the diffusers.

"We trialled the diffusers in one class last year and that class had fewer students off sick and the teacher said the behaviour had improved," she said.

"We want to stop the spread of illness and have children in the class learning, not at home sick."

She said other schools used the diffusers with no issue and she had cleared the use with the Ministry of Education.

Cattell said the diffusers were now locked away in an office until the board decided what to do next.

"The teachers were behind the use 100 per cent and so many parents have told me they loved the idea of the diffusers in class, there was so much positive feedback," she said.

"But no school wants the threat of legal action so we pulled them straight away. We have other battles."