Pesticides & IPM
Pesticides & Integrated Pest Management:
Pests and pesticides in schools contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ) and present health hazards for school occupants. Pests (roaches, mice, rats and others) can spread diseases and trigger allergic reactions and asthma. Pesticides are made to be toxic and have been linked to asthma, cancer, nervous and immune system damage, liver or kidney damage, reproductive impairment, birth defects and damage to the endocrine system. Lawn chemicals used on school playing fields have been shown to impact development and lead to behavioral disorders. Outdoor pesticides become IAQ problems when they are tracked indoors and get embedded in carpets and when they drift indoors and into ventilation systems during application.
Exposure to pesticides poses a serious risk to children for a number of reasons. Children’s organ systems are still developing. Pesticide vapors, fumes or dusts may be inhaled or come in contact with eye tissue. Residues from chemicals can come into contact with skin and either burn skin tissue or get absorbed through the skin and be carried to body organs. Many of their behaviors expose children to threats from toxic chemicals. They often play on the floor or ground and come in contact with chemical residues. They then either put their hands in their mouth or don’t wash hands before eating and accidentally eat chemicals through hand-to-mouth contact.
An alternative to the use of traditional pesticides in schools is the adoption of an integrated pest management (IPM) program. IPM is defined to be the use of all available pest control techniques, including judicious use of pesticides, when warranted, to maintain a pest population at or below an acceptable level while decreasing the unnecessary use of pesticides. IPM emphasizes pest prevention by identifying and eliminating conditions conducive to pests. Multiple tactics are used, not just pesticides.
Preference is given to non-chemical tactics, but if necessary, the least risky products are used. IPM relies on an understanding of pest biology, such as their life cycle and food preferences. Tactics are used which eliminate food, water and places where pests can hide and breed.
Classroom clutter is a general cleanliness problem, a pest problem and a health concern. Clutter contributes to the accumulation of dust and gives pests, such as insects, cockroaches and rodents, a place to hide and breed. By reducing clutter, schools can help to keep pests, allergens and dust at a minimum. This will improve the indoor air quality for all students and staff, especially those who have asthma.
When clutter is reduced, there is increased access to floor spaces, countertops, window sills and shelves. This makes it easier for custodial staff to sweep, mop, vacuum and dust and creates a healthier learning environment. De-cluttering the inside of cupboards and closets eliminates hiding places for pests and reduces allergens.
Summary of CT LAW dealing with pesticides in school buildings and on school grounds:
(CT General Statutes Section Nos. 10-231, 19a-79a, 22a-59a, 22a-61b, 22a-63 and 22a-66l)
- Requires that only licensed applicators can apply pesticides within any building or on the grounds of a public school, other than a regional vocational agriculture center, except in emergencies
- Bans application of pesticides during school hours or planned events, except in emergencies.
- Bans restricted pesticides, even in emergencies.
- Bars children from reentering an area where pesticide was used until it is safe according to the specifications on the pesticide label
- Requires school boards to provide parents, guardians and staff with a written statement at the beginning of the school year of the board's policy on pesticide application on school property and a description of any pesticide applications made at the school during the previous school year. (During the year for transfer students)
- Provides a registry at the school for parents, guardians and staff to sign up on who want to be notified before pesticides are sprayed
- Requires schools to maintain pesticide application records on site for five years
- Bans the use of lawn-care pesticides on the grounds of public and private schools with grades K-8, except in emergencies
- Exempts athletic fields of schools with grades K-8 until July 1, 2009. Until then, these fields must be maintained by using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods. At the end of the two year period these athletic fields must become organic as well.
- Makes the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) responsible for administering and enforcing school pesticide applications
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Question: What are some basic integrated pest management techniques to reduce the number of pests in my school?
Answer: The most important part of IPM is prevention: keeping pests out in the first place, eliminating food and water sources and cleaning out places where pests can hide and breed...Close pest entryways by having screens on windows and plugging holes and cracks in walls.Fix leaks, remove water damaged materialsand clean up food sources.
Clean lockers and desks on a regular schedule and eliminate clutter.
Free On-line Training Opportunity:
EPA website section on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in schools:
EPA Model IPM Program for Schools:
CT Dept of Energy & Environmental Protection Pesticides page:
Self Paced Learning Page for Urban IPM:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website section on Rodent Control:
Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Ct website section on Pesticides:
Environment and Human Health, Inc. website section on Pesticides:
EPA IAQ website section on Pesticides:
EPA Tools for Schools Kit Integrated Pest Management Checklist:
EPA Tools for Schools Kit Background Information for Integrated Pest Management Checklist:
New England Asthma Regional Council website section on Integrated Pest Management:
Pest Press Issue on Clutter Control:
Reducing Pest Problems in Schools by Reducing Clutter Fact Sheet: