Implementing integrated pest management procedures in schools typically involves common-sense steps for reducing the need to rely upon chemicals for pest control. It establishes action thresholds for ongoing pollution prevention with schools caused by routine pest management controls.
Starting an integrated pest management program with an established action threshold is key to preventing pollution caused by routine pest management. Below are the steps included in effective IPM plans.
IPM provides a systematic process for controlling both interior and exterior pests without reliance upon chemicals. Within the school's IPM policy, include statements that encourage establishment of action thresholds (what are acceptable and unacceptable population numbers of any pest) and action plans for sightings of pests.
Action plans should include standards for acceptable applicator services and appropriate treatment strategies. Communication to staff and parents should recognize their rights-to-know about any treatments. All treatments should begin with the least-toxic and least-hazardous alternatives.
Use the links on the right side of the page to find model IPM plans.
Native plant landscaping is an effective technique for reducing chemical use on the school campus. Relying upon plants indigenous to the community encourages natural controls of plant material. Removal of invasive weeds using manual methods can prevent large population buildups. Landscaping companies that specialize in native plants are available in most communities. Local native plant society members can contribute educational material and plant selection suggestions. State native plant societies can recommend contacts for local affiliates. County extension offices can also offer recommendations on native plant materials and practices.
The simple practice of keeping shrubby vegetation away from the building will reduce the risk of structural pests. Observe the building/vegetation interface beginning at the ground level and going up to and including the roofline. Keep highly fragrant flowering plants that attract insects away from play areas and along pathways. Fragrant flowering plants are valuable pollinator attractants yet, can create unnecessary risks for children with allergies.
Reduced energy use is often closely associated with pesticide prevention techniques. Buildings can be made more energy efficient by sealing cracks, caulking windows, and closing gaps under doors. Sealing around pipes will further reduce energy waste by closing in warm air during the winter and sealing out warm air during the summer, while keeping pests and some allergens out.
Unnecessary use of pesticides (herbicides, rodenticides, and insectides) increases the amount of exposure of hazardous chemicals for children and school staff, and contributes to ongoing pollution in school environments.
Exterior overuse of pesticides is known to contribute to water quality degradation and will infiltrate the watershed. Residual pesticides will enter the food chain of local wildlife and will place neighboring pets at risk. Disposal of pesticide containers creates greater risks when they are sent to landfills. Some pesticides reduce indoor air quality for students and subjects them to unnecessary chemical hazards over long periods of time.
Pollution Prevention Options
|Area||Pest/Problem||Possible Least-Toxic Actions|
|Library||Silverfish/Destruction of books and manuscripts caused by feeding on starches, including glues that bind books||Reduce interior humidity; vacuum cracks, crevices, and other harborages; prohibit food in the library; and caulk and seal entry routes.|
|Kitchen||Rodents/Contamination of food||Caulk and seal entry routes, conduct deep cleaning around cooking areas and in all cracks and crevices, unload deliveries away from kitchen, and monitor all deliveries for hitchhiking pests.|
|Locker Rooms, Greenhouses, Restrooms||Molds, Viruses, and Bacteria/Airborne allergens||Repair all leaks and plumbing problems, keep area dry, reduce humidity level, provide air circulation, and clean surfaces with soap and water.|
Not all professional pest control services follow IPM methods. Greater numbers of contractors are recognizing the need to obtain IPM certifications. Look for certified operators who pursue continuing education and training for the most current appropriate and least-hazardous methods and materials. School administrators should learn about health risks associated with traditional pest control methods, as well as the federal and state requirements, before contracting with a pest control service.
Education opportunities that foster pollution prevention through IPM vary and apply to every level of participation.
EPA pesticide registration is required for all pesticides and each of their uses.