Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Schools
Protecting Children in Schools from Pests and Pesticides
Pesticides are powerful tools for controlling pests. However, pesticides need to be used carefully and judiciously, especially when used in sensitive areas where children are present. Children are more sensitive than adults to pesticides. Young children can have greater exposure to pesticides from crawling, exploring, or other hand-to-mouth activities.
The EPA recommends that schools use integrated pest management (IPM) to reduce pesticide risk and exposure to children. Put simply, IPM is a safer, and usually less costly option for effective pest management in a school community. A school IPM program uses common sense strategies to reduce sources of food, water and shelter for pests in your school buildings and grounds. An IPM program takes advantage of all pest management strategies, including the judicious and careful use of pesticides when necessary.
Since children spend so much of their day at school, integrated pest management provides an opportunity to create a safer learning environment - - to reduce children's exposure to pesticides as well as eliminate pests. EPA is encouraging school officials to adopt IPM practices to reduce children's exposure to pesticides.
On this page:
- Is There a Safer Way to Control Pests?
- How Do You Know If Your School Is Really Using IPM?
- How You Can Get Started
- What Organizations Are Saying about IPM
- Common Pests in School Settings
- School IPM Programs Where You Live and Related Information
School administrators and others who have decision-making responsibilities for pest management in and around school buildings and grounds should know that safer options exist.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a safer, and usually less costly option for effective pest management in the school community. A school IPM program employs commonsense strategies to reduce sources of food, water and shelter for pests in your school buildings and grounds. IPM programs take advantage of all pest management strategies, including judicious careful use of pesticides when necessary.
You can make sure that:
- The problem or pest is identified before taking action.
- Vegetation, shrubs and wood mulch should be kept at least one foot away from structures.
- Cracks and crevices in walls, floors and pavement are either sealed or eliminated.
- Lockers and desks are emptied and thoroughly cleaned at least twice yearly.
- Food-contaminated dishes, utensils, surfaces are cleaned by the end of each day.
- Garbage cans and dumpsters are cleaned regularly.
- Litter is collected and disposed of properly at least once a week.
- Fertilizers should be applied several times (e.g.,spring, summer, fall) during the year, rather than one heavy application.
- If pesticides are necessary, use spot treatments rather than area-wide applications.
There are several resources available that provide excellent reference information where you can learn more about Integrated Pest Management, and get the tools to start an IPM program at your school.
- HealthySEAT Version 2 - Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool.
- EPA has published a brochure titled "Protecting Children in Schools from Pests and Pesticides." The brochure provides resources, success stories and examples of IPM practices for safer pest management within our Nation's schools. A copy of the brochure may be obtained on-line by contacting the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP), or by phone at 1-800-490-9198. The EPA publication number is EPA-735-F-02-014.
- The popular EPA booklet, "Pest Control in the School Environment: Adopting IPM" is designed to encourage and assist school officials in examining and improving their pest management practices. It identifies ways to reduce the use of pesticides in school buildings and landscapes, as well as alternative methods of managing pests commonly found in schools. A copy of the booklet may be obtained on-line by contacting the NSCEP, or by phone at 1-800-490-9198. The EPA publication number is EPA 735-F-93-012.
- Supported by EPA, the University of Florida's IPM in Schools provides a wealth of valuable, free, useful information for school administrators, staff members, pest managers, and parents to start an IPM program.
- National School IPM Information Source from the University of Florida web site provides IPM resource information by state. The EPA Regional school IPM contact can provide you with the latest information on school IPM.
- EPA Supported Technical Resource Centers for IPM in Schools and Day Cares: The Centers provide tools, training and technical support for schools and day care centers to start an IPM program. Training opportunities, IPM principles, and specific management techniques are available for custodial and maintenance staff.
- Purdue University's IPM School Technical Resource Center - serves Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, 1-877-668-8476.
- Texas A&M University's School IPM Website - serves Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, 1-877-747-6872.
- Video: Integrated Pest Management in Schools (A Better Method) explains in simple language what IPM is and how to get it started. Available on-line from the Safer Pest Control Project , or by phone at 773-878-7378 ext. 204.
- Video: SP-292 ABCs of IPM Training Series is designed to introduce IPM concepts and help school district personnel implement IPM programs, and is available from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
- IPM school contact:
Sherry Glick (email@example.com; 214-665-6713)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (7511P)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
- For outreach materials including "Read the Label First" contact our publication center the NSCEP.
- If you have a question about a pesticide, contact: National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378, or by e-mail inquiry (firstname.lastname@example.org) .
EPA is helping schools understand and implement IPM by distributing printed publications and supporting projects that demonstrate variable and sustainable school IPM programs. Here are some examples of successful IPM demonstrations:
"Monroe County Indiana achieved a 92 percent reduction in pesticide use, enabling them to also direct their cost savings to hire a district-wide coordinator to oversee pest management in the schools. As a result of this achievement, Monroe County was awarded the Governor's Award for Pollution Prevention. The Monroe County IPM Program has now evolved into the Monroe School IPM Model. By using this Model, the emphasis is placed on minimizing the use of broad spectrum chemicals, and on maximizing the use of sanitation, biological controls and selective methods of application." -- Monroe County Community Schools Corporation, Indiana
"In the Vista de las Cruces School in California, pest management costs went from $1,740 a year to $270 (plus labor) for two years." -- Santa Barbara, California
"The Kyrene School District reduced pesticide applications by 90 percent and kept pest populations below 85 percent of their original levels by using IPM. Due to the overwhelming success, their IPM program was expanded to all the Kyrene district schools in spring 2001 (27 schools)." -- Kyrene School District Facilities Manager, Arizona
"In managing pests, the emphasis should be placed on minimizing the use of broad spectrum chemicals, and on maximizing the use of sanitation, biological controls and selective methods of application." -- American Public Health Association
"A healthy school environment is essential. All students and staff have a right to learn and work in a healthy school environment, safe from air pollution, radiation, sound and mechanical stress, and chemical exposures." -- National Association of School Nurses
"National PTA supports efforts [IPM implementation] at the federal, state, and local levels to eliminate the environmental health hazards caused by pesticide use in and around schools." -- National Parent Teacher Association
Some pests common in schools can harm both children and adults.
- Flies and cockroaches may spread disease.
- Cockroaches can cause allergies and asthma attacks.
- Yellow jacket stings are painful and can be life-threatening to those with allergies.
- Spiders may inflict painful bites and some may pose a health risk.
- Mice may contaminate food, trigger asthma attacks and cause structural damage.
- Termites cause structural damage.
- Low risk esthetic problems include weeds invading playgrounds; ants swarming and fruit flies in the kitchen