Why Integrated Pest Management in Schools?
Schools need to control a number of problem pests in school buildings and on school grounds to maintain a healthy and safe environment for children. These pests may include cockroaches, rats and mice, yellowjackets, ants, or weeds in the play areas. Conventional pest control methods have recently come under question by concerned parents, teachers, school districts, and community activists. At the center of the concern is the potential risk of chemical pesticides. Chemical pesticides vary widely in chemistry and their potential toxicity. For immediate safety and long-term peace of mind, it is prudent to be cautious and minimize children’s exposure to pesticides on school grounds. IPM is an approach to pest control that can help maintain a safe and healthy environment for students and reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
IPM emphasizes long-term prevention of pest problems through:
- good sanitation in kitchens and garbage areas.
- physical barriers such as screens and caulk to keep pests out of buildings.
- use of natural predators to control landscape pests.
- selection of disease-resistant plants and low-maintenance landscaping.
- baits or traps to take care of emerging problems.
If a chemical pesticide is deemed necessary to manage a pest outbreak, then the product with the least potential hazard should be used. The potential hazard of pesticides can be further reduced when:
- they are applied by trained and licensed personnel who read and scrupulously follow the label directions.
- they are not applied when children are present.
- they are applied to areas where children cannot access them (e.g. wall voids.)
- products are formulated in baits and gels and do not contain solvent carriers or become volatile.
- treated areas are posted and access to the area is restricted until ventilation or drying is complete.