Utah Pests News Summer 2009

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USU Joins School IPM Work Group

In agriculture, the way we have historically managed pests is changing from a no-tolerance, eradication paradigm to a multi-tactic, biology-based management plan based on pest thresholds.  Today, the same shift in pest control strategies has come to the forefront of secondary schools due to the hard work by leaders of the IPM Institute, the USDA IPM Regional Centers, Cooperative Extension, universities, and individuals.  A strategic plan was recently developed to transition all schools in the U.S. to IPM pest management by 2015 (Green & Gouge 2008; click here for pdf).  The plan includes implementing IPM for all pest problems in schools with the goal of reducing the use of pesticides (71% average reduction is possible) and to create a safer, more productive learning environment.

Why does IPM in schools matter?  If for no other reason, to protect the health of children. Research has shown that pesticide exposure for school employees and students can cause coughing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and eye irritation (NIOSH Fact Sheet).  NIOSH reports that long-term exposure in adults has been associated with chronic health effects such as cancer, neurological, and reproductive problems.

In the Salt Lake City school district, school IPM is well under way.  Along with the hard work from facilities, maintenance staff, and teachers, SLC district administrators Greg Smith, Ricardo Zubiate, Robin Anderson, Mervin Brewer, and Mark Ruff, have been on the forefront of a highly successful school IPM program.  Among many other awards, SLC school district was the first in the Rocky Mountain region to be awarded IPM STAR certification, a voluntary program sponsored by the IPM Institute and the EPA. (Click here for full story.)  The district joins just 27 other STAR certified districts in the nation.

In 2009, USU Insect Diagnostician Ryan Davis, joined the Western Region School IPM Implementation and Assessment Work Group, funded by the Western Region IPM Center.  He will help the SLC school district develop online resources for managing pests, act as a resource for insect-related pest control issues, and aid in the adoption of IPM in Utah’s schools.  Despite successes at the SLC school district, adoption by other Utah school districts has been slow.  Because improper pest management affects all Utah children, parents can help to drive IPM adoption in schools by working with school administrators.  For information on how to get started, visit the EPA’s IPM in Schools Web site (click here).  You can also contact Ryan directly by sending an e-mail to ryan.davis@biology.usu.edu.

-Ryan Davis, Arthropod Diagnostician

1.  Green, T.A., and D.H. Gouge, eds. 2008. School IPM 2015: A Strategic Plan for Integrated Pest Management in Schools in the United States. 286 pp. 
2. National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety. Reducing Pesticide Exposure at Schools. Fact Sheet. September, 2007.