Pesticide Action Month

Integrated Pest Management 101

IPM, or integrated pest management, is a safe, effective, and scientific approach to managing pests. IPM uses knowledge of pests’ habits and needs to help implement pest prevention tactics first, and uses pesticides only when necessary selecting effective pesticide products that pose the least risk of exposure to people and the environment.

Pests in schools can destroy property, contaminate food, bite or sting people, and worsen other health issues. For example, certain pest infestations can trigger or worsen asthma incidence, and pests can spread infectious and deadly diseases. However, routine pesticide use, particularly sprays, may lead to unacceptable chemical exposure risks. Children spend approximately 1,100 hours per year in school buildings. Kids are especially sensitive to some pesticides because of their small size and developing bodies. Parents, health care workers, and school officials are increasingly looking to reduce potential student and staff exposures to toxins in the school setting.

IPM use in schools considers the causes of pest infestations and focuses on preventative tactics. IPM provides more effective and longer-term control. IPM uses routine inspections with intervention only when necessary. Therefore, pesticide treatments, if needed, are reduced and limited to pest hot spots, or are eliminated altogether.
Because IPM also seeks to reduce children’s pesticide exposure, less risky products and formulations are selected. Additional benefits of IPM include more effective pest management, reduced clutter, improved cleanliness, and better energy efficiency in buildings due to proper maintenance.

Did you know?

PA state law requires school and childcare centers to use IPM techniques and tools to reduce chemical exposure for students and staff. 48 hour notice must be given to school community members and surrounding neighbors, as well as residents on the Hypersensitivity Registry, prior to chemical pesticide application. Click here or more information on the Hypersensitivity Registry or the PA IPM for Schools Program.

Why we support IPM in Schools and Childcare Centers

  1. IPM Protects Health
    By reducing the use of chemical pesticide exposures, we are protecting the health of our children and school and childcare center professionals. An NHANES study found that children aged 6-11 carry the most amount of pesticide exposure nationally – more than any other age group. Our children’s health is foundational to their success in school – allowing them to develop cognitive and social skills and achieve academic success.
  2. IPM Protects the Environment
    IPM promotes the use of alternative products and safer chemical formulations when pesticides are necessary. Botanical active products, for example, use essential oils derived from plants who use these oils to protect themselves from bugs. These botanical-based products are safer for our waterways and animal and marine life.
  3. IPM Prevents Pesticide-resistant Bugs and Weeds
    Overuse of chemical pesticides such as pyrethoids can create pests and weeds that are resistant to chemicals. This means that if these pests return to the same location, you will need different, stronger, or a mix of more chemicals to deter them. Using evidence-based techniques to monitor and repel pests is always best.

Taking Action

We’ll be celebrating all month long as we launch our Pesticide Action Toolkit and host our second Integrated Pest Management training for school and childcare center staff. To learn more about our Toolkit, click here. To register for our upcoming training, click here.