IAQ Tools for Schools
IAQ Reference Guide
Appendix K - Integrated Pest Management
- low-impact pesticides;
- comprehensive information about pests;
- available and economical pest control methods; and
- safety considerations for people, property, and the environment.
Pests seek habitats that provide basic needs — air, moisture, food, and shelter. Pest populations can be eliminated, prevented, or controlled by:
- Creating inhospitable pest environments;
- Removing basic elements that pests need for survival; or
- Blocking pest access into buildings.
Pests may also be managed by other methods such as traps and vacuums.
Managing Pests in Schools
Common pests found in schools (or on school grounds) include flies, cockroaches, yellow jackets, ants, spiders, mice, and termites.
Although they can help control pests, pesticides need to be used carefully. Children may be more sensitive to pesticides than adults. In particular, young children may be particularly susceptible as they can encounter pesticides while crawling, exploring, or through hand-to-mouth activities.
Public concern about health and environmental risks associated with pesticides and other chemicals is increasing, particularly when children are involved. School administrators and others responsible for decisions about school-based pest control need to be aware of these risks and knowledgeable about safe alternatives.
There are many safe IPM practices for schools:
- Keep vegetation, shrubs, and wood mulch at least one foot away from structures.
- Fill cracks and crevices in walls, floors, and pavement.
- Empty and clean lockers and desks at least twice a year.
- Clean food-contaminated dishes, utensils, and surfaces right away.
- Clean garbage cans and dumpsters at least bimonthly.
- Collect and properly dispose of litter or garbage at least once a week.
- Identify the problem or pest before taking action.
- Apply smaller amounts of fertilizers several times during the year (spring, summer, and fall, for example) rather than one heavy application.
- Use spot applications or pesticides (if necessary) rather than area-wide applications.
- Store pesticides in well-ventilated buildings that are inaccessible to undesignated personnel or located offsite.
- Lock lids of bait boxes and place bait away from the runway of the box.
Establish an IPM Program for Your School
An efficient IPM program can and should be integrated with other school management activities, such as preventive maintenance, janitorial practices, landscaping, occupant education, and staff training.
To establish an IPM program in your school:
Step 1: Develop an official IPM Policy Statement. In addition to showing the district’s support for an integrated approach to pest management, the statement should outline methods to educate and train staff, store pesticides, notify parents and school occupants of pesticide applications, and keep accurate records. This policy statement can also act as a guide for the IPM manager while developing an IPM program.
Step 2: Designate specific roles for pest management personnel, school occupants, and key decision-makers. For example, encourage occupants to keep their areas clean, encourage parents to learn about IPM practices and follow them at home, designate a qualified person to be the pest manager, and gain the support decision-makers who control the funds for IPM projects. Establish methods for good communication among these groups of people, and educate or train them in their respective roles.
Step 3: Set specific pest management objectives for each site. Tailor each objective to the site and situation. Examples of objectives for school buildings may include preserving the integrity of building structures or preventing interference with the learning environment of the students. Providing safe playing areas and best possible athletic surfaces are sample objectives for school grounds.
Step 4: Inspect site(s) to identify and estimate the extent of pest problems. After identifying potential pest habitats in buildings and on school grounds, develop plans to modify the habitats (for example, exclusion, repair, and sanitation). Establish a monitoring program that involves routine inspections to track the success of the habitat modifications and to estimate the size of the pest population.
Step 5: Set thresholds for taking action. These thresholds are the levels of pest populations or site environmental conditions that require remedial action. It is important to consider sensitive individuals when setting thresholds.
Step 6: Apply IPM strategies to control pests when you reach an action threshold or to prevent pest problems. These strategies may include redesigning and repairing structures, establishing watering and mowing practices, and storing pesticides in well ventilated areas. Refer to the IPM Checklist for a list of possible strategies for indoor and outdoor sites as well as information on safe pesticide use and storage.
Step 7: Evaluate the results of your IPM practices to determine if pest management objectives are being met. Keep written records of all aspects of the program, including records for state and local regulations.
Evaluating the Costs
IPM programs may actually cost less in the long-term than a conventional pest control program that relies solely on the use of pesticides. Although the long-term labor costs for IPM may be higher than those for conventional pesticide treatments, the labor costs are often offset by reduced expenditures for materials.
Whether an IPM program raises or lowers costs depends in part on the nature of the current housekeeping, maintenance, and pest management operations. The costs of implementing an IPM program also depend on whether the pest management services are contracted, performed in-house, or a combination of both. To fit the IPM program into the existing budgetary framework, school administrators must consider what additional and redistributed expenditures are involved. As with any program, insufficient resources will jeopardize the success of an IPM program.
IPM provides schools with an economical, environmentally friendly alternative to control and prevent pest problems. Schools should tailor IPM programs to meet their specific needs and set appropriate objectives and thresholds to help them implement a successful pest management program.
For additional information on IPM, see Appendix L: "Resources."