School IPM Program
Today, many school pest management programs are reactionary-find a pest and use a chemical product to eliminate it. While pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides) are valuable tools in a pest management program, improper and unnecessary use are common and do not provide optimum control. Integrated pest management (IPM) uses common-sense methods to control pests. IPM is proactive pest management. It helps prevent pests from becoming a problem in the first place, greatly reducing the need for reactionary pesticide use. In schools, IPM programs have reduced pesticide use by up to 70% or more while seeing a decrease in pest complaints and presence. In a school IPM program, non-chemical controls are used first, relying on approved pesticides applied by trained and licensed applicators as a last resort. IPM can be applied in schools, and to control pests at home, in crop fields, fruit orchards, or in any situation where pests exist.
Some school districts manage insects, rodents, weeds, etc. via contracted monthly (or other) pesticide applications. Basing a pest control program on calendar-based pesticide applications is inefficient, and puts unnecessary chemicals into the school environment. Why apply pesticides if there is no problem? By breaking free from the calendar-based approach and adopting IPM, districts can cut unnecessary pesticide use up to and over 90%, while doing a superior job at controlling pests. Does your district use unnecessary pesticide applications on a calendar-based basis?
- Planning Ahead
- Cultural Pest Control Practices
- Mechanical Pest Control Practices
- "Soft" Chemicals
- Broad-Spectrum Chemicals
It is difficult to evaluate the long-term, chronic health effects of pesticide exposure on human health. However, in schools the use of IPM can have a direct affect on your child's health for many reasons.
- Children are smaller than adults and exposure to the same quantity of chemical can have greater affects on the child.
- Children, especially small children, have different habits that increase exposure to pesticides used in schools, including: crawling/playing/sleeping on the floor or outside on managed turf, feeding while sitting on the floor or turf, and putting objects and body parts into their mouth that may have contacted chemically treated areas.
- Majority of child exposure to pesticide chemicals occurs in the first 5 years of their life.
- Allergens from cockroaches and other pests can trigger allergies or asthma; IPM is much more efficient at preventing pest presence up front, reducing both allergens present and the need for a reactionary, chemical approach.
- Absenteeism due to asthma and allergy-related ailments negatively affects your child's education.
- Acute poisoning risk. Any time chemicals are used, especially if used improperly by non-licensed individuals, the risk of acute poisoning exists. In Utah, there is no requirement that individuals applying pesticides (non-restricted) in schools or on school grounds have a pesticide license, unless the applications are made by a commercial pest control company.
Pest control practices can vary by the school district and sometimes by individual schools within a district. In Utah, one school district, the Salt Lake City School District has a long-running verifiable IPM program. As part of our EPA grant 3 new school districts are piloting IPM programs in Utah: Canyons School District, Nebo School District, and Davis School District. Call you school district today to inquire. New IPM-practicing schools will be added as we continue to work with schools across Utah.
There are many barriers to starting an IPM program, but once in place a well-run IPM program can save money, dramatically decrease pesticide use (over 90% in some cases), and keep pest levels and sightings at or below those seen when using traditional pest control methods. To the left is a list of commonly cited barriers to starting an IPM program taken from a survey of Utah and Colorado schools in 2012.
If you have interest in becoming a change agent in your district, or learning more about our New School IPM Pilot Program, please contact Ryan Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone: 435-797-2435.