Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Schools Brochure
Our Nation’s children spend a considerable amount of their time in schools, as do teachers and school support staff. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 55.7 million students in both public and private schools are taught by 6.5 million staff, with enrollment rates steadily increasing every year. With this in mind, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to reduce the risk that both children and employees experience from pesticide exposure in schools and on school grounds.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Schools Program
Some pests are known to spread disease, bite, cause allergic reactions, and cause asthma attacks. Unmanaged pest problems and unsafe pesticide practices threaten our children’s health and our ability to educate them effectively. Full implementation of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program can reduce pesticide exposure, pesticide use, and pest complaints. However, U.S. schools have been slow to adopt IPM. Coordinated by EPA and other organizations, the IPM in Schools Program is one of EPA’s collaborative PestWise programs. It is a national effort to make safe, effective pest management standard practice in all of the Nation’s schools.
The IPM in Schools Program strives to:
- Increase the number of schools adopting IPM
- Increase IPM awareness among legislators, regulators, school districts, parents, and students.
Pest Elimination in Schools
Pest control in schools and on school grounds may involve regularly scheduled pesticide applications, regardless of whether pests are present. Children might come into contact with pesticides in common areas. Also, failure to manage the conditions that attract pests ensures future pest problems and the continued need for pesticide use.
The IPM Approach to Pest Elimination in Schools
By using IPM instead of relying solely on extensive pesticide applications, schools can reduce pest populations and reduce the use of pesticides, making schools safer for children and school personnel.
IPM reduces the use of pesticides by first monitoring pest populations to determine where, when, and what kind of controls should be applied. Schools can reduce pest infestations by identifying and removing conditions that will attract pests.
Common pest attractors include:
- Overflowing dumpsters,
- Unrestrained growth of landscape and vegetation,
- Untidy areas, both outside and inside schools, and
- Outdated structures and ventilation systems.
Preventative measures are easy to implement and often improve the overall maintenance of the school. These measures can include:
- Restricting where food is eaten,
- Moving dumpsters and food disposal containers away from the school,
- Repairing and maintaining leaking pipes,
- Pressuring cleaning food service areas,
- Sealing cracks and crevices,
- Instituting sanitation measures,
- Cleaning gutters and directing water flow away from building to prevent saturation, and
- Educating students and staff about how their actions affect pest management and control.
In addition to adopting preventative measures, the IPM approach includes evaluating a school’s pest management practices and choosing lower-risk methods of pest removal and prevention. When developing an IPM program, schools should consider methods that:
- Minimize health risks to humans and the environment,
- Minimize disruption of the natural, outdoor environment,
- Are least toxic to species that are not pests,
- Prevent a recurrence of the pest infestation,
- Are safe and easy to apply effectively, and
- Are cost-effective.
Implementing an IPM Program in Schools
Schools, childcare facilities, and school-aged education or recreation programs can easily create their own IPM programs independent of school districts. In most cases, however, a district-wide policy statement is issued by the school board so all schools interested in participating in an IPM program can adhere to the same general rules and policies for IPM implementation. Each school district designs its own parameters for pest management, and individual schools design management programs tailored to their own needs and specifications.
To develop an effective IPM program, a school should consider creating a committee of administrators, teachers, and parents to:
- Coordinate procedures of pest management,
- Facilitate communication between the school and pest application administrator, and
- Evaluate the progress and success of the pest management program.
Implementing a school IPM program takes dedication and commitment. School administrators, teachers, parents, and students can find an abundance of IPM resources at EPA’s IPM in Schools Program Web site: www.epa.gov/pestwise/ipminschools
IPM Program Recognition and Certification
Some school districts choose to have their IPM program recognized or certified. There are a few programs in the United States that recognize and reward school districts for implementing and sustaining IPM practices within their schools, such as EPA’s Children’s Environmental Health Excellence Awards and the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice’s Green Flag Schools Program. If schools choose, they can apply for IPM STAR Certification. The IPM Institute of North America’s IPM STAR Certification Program recognizes and rewards schools, childcare and school-age child education and recreation programs that meet high IPM program standards. Schools working toward IPM STAR Certification receive:
- Assistance developing and maintaining an IPM program,
- Evaluation of its pest management program,
- Public recognition, and
- A list of certified IPM verifiers and managers.
Information about the IPM STAR Certification Program is available at:
What is IPM?
IPM is an effective and environmentally sensitive blended approach to pest management. IPM programs use comprehensive information about pest life cycles and the influence of the environment to choose the best methods for controlling pest populations. This information is used to manage pests economically, with the least possible hazard to health, property, and the environment. A successful IPM program takes advantage of all pest management strategies, including prevention, inspection, communication, biopesticide use, and judicious and careful use of pesticides when necessary.