The pesticide producers idea of School IPM 
(Include Pesticides Monthly) 

This plan is apparently being sent to hundreds if not thousands of school districts in the United States and probably other countries.  We have included what we call "reality checks" for your convenience and amazement.  Each "Reality Check" opens a new browser window.  Just close the window to return to this document.

Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment

[Reality Check - What do they mean]

Pests pose serious risks to children's health in schools. At the same time, the use of pesticides in schools can be challenging because of heightened concerns and misinformation.  It is important to remember pesticides can be used safely and responsibly to control pests such as insects, rodents and weeds as part of a balanced program, called integrated pest management. [Reality Check - Pesticides can be used safely] * [More Reality - Professional Pest Control People Speak]

Cockroaches, ants, wasps, head lice and rats are the pests most commonly found in schools, and they do more than disrupt the learning environment. These pests pose increasing health and safety risks to children. Children, just by nature of their size, are more vulnerable to vector-borne diseases (carried by insects) because their immune systems are still developing. Consider some of the problems with pests in the school environment:  [Reality Check - pests vs. pesticides]

These types of problems have caused schools to implement pest management programs. Many are turning to integrated pest management or IPM.

IPM defined

Integrated pest management can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a school's pest control program and reduce pesticide costs. While IPM includes the judicious use of appropriate pesticides, it also implies that pesticides will be used only if necessary.

Each situation is carefully monitored allowing the use of the most appropriate pesticide to effectively control the pest. This specific, targeted approach results in an effective pest control program, one that assures the correct amount of pesticide is applied. The approach also enhances the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff.

How IPM Works

There are three steps in integrated pest management:

  1. Identify and monitor the pests. IPM begins by identifying pests in and around school property and monitoring the level of infestation. Accurate pest identification is critical. Each pest has a life cycle and certain environmental needs. Proper identification and monitoring makes it easy to select the most appropriate and cost effective control available. It is important to know when pests invade a school and where they are located. Often, sticky traps are used for monitoring pest populations. The traps show what type and how many pests are present.

  2. Determine an action threshold. A school or district should determine an action threshold, which is the level of pest infestation and activity that can be tolerated. The action threshold for each pest is determined by the potential severity of the damage caused by the pest, site characteristics, health concerns related to the pest and site-user needs. Each school or district may have different action thresholds.

  3. Take preventive or curative actions. Accurate pest identification, and awareness of the action threshold, gives a school's pest management team the use of several pest control methods, allowing each school or district to create the best, safest pest control program. Among the IPM pest control tools available are: sanitation, structural repair and maintenance, watering and mowing practices, pest resistant plant varieties, and judicious use of pesticides.

Communication Is Key

To be effective, a pest management team has to establish clear lines of communication and designated roles of responsibility. Often, the school board sets the overall pest management policy, provides funding and monitors the results. It is important that the school board understands what IPM is. 

Sometimes school boards are pressured to completely eliminate the use of pesticides. They try this approach, only to discover that the judicious use of pesticides is needed to economically and effectively control pest populations found in and around schools. Extensive research and solid science show pesticides pose little or no risk to the health of children or adults when used according to label instructions. [Reality Check - extensive research]* [Reality Check - Solid Science] *[Reality Check - label instructions] * [Reality Check - Eliminating pesticides doesn't work ]

Establishing a Program

In addition to effective communications, and IPM program must include a written policy and a knowledgeable coordinator.

A written policy is essential. IPM is doomed to fail without broad understanding and commitment by all stakeholders, including faculty, staff, board members and parents. A written policy helps to gain consensus and provides continuity.

Once a policy is in place, a staff person should coordinate the overall program. Whether the entire program is implemented internally or the majority of services are contracted out to a pest control professional, it is critical to have a knowledgeable person on staff.

Success of IPM in schools is also dependent upon full cooperation of administrators, faculty, maintenance/custodial staff, parents and students.  

Treatment Options

Once an IPM program is in place, it's important to choose the right treatment options to control posts.  Here are a few to consider:


Information that will help change student and staff behaviors - particularly how they dispose of wastes and store foods - play an invaluable role in managing posts like cockroaches, ants, flies, yallov4ackets and rodents.  Education is a cost-effective post management strategy.

Spot treatments

Pesticide treatments should be applied when and where needed.  It isn't always necessary to treat in entire building or landscape area to solve a post problem. By monitoring to pinpoint where post numbers are beginning to reach an action level and confining treatments to those areas, co6ts and exposure can be kept to a minimum.  Examples of spot treatments Include baits that are applied to pest harborages or contained In childproof bait stations, dusts that are applied to space behind walls or in attics or crack and crevice injections that target the pests where they live. Habitat modification

Pests need food, water and shelter to survive.  If the post manager can eliminate or reduce even one of these requirements, the environment will -support fewer pests.

Design or redesign of structure

Design changes can incorporate pest-resistant structural materials, fixtures and furnishings.  These changes sometimes can entirely eliminate pest habitat.  For example, buildings designed without exterior horizontal ledges will reduce pigeon problems.  Inside, industrial stainless steel wire shelving mounted on rolling castors, rather than built-in shelves, helps reduce mach habitat and facilitates cleanup of spilled food.


Improved sanitation practices, such as removing trash on a regular basis, can reduce or eliminate food for pests.

Eliminating Post Habitat

How this can be done, varies depending upon the pest.  Some examples include caulking cracks and crevices to eliminate cockroach and flea harborage, removing clutter that provides roach habitat and removing dense vegetation near buildings to eliminate rodent harborage.

Modification of Horticultural Activities

Planting techniques, irrigation, fertilization, pruning and mowing can all affect how well plants grow.  Many problems encountered in school landscapes are attributable to using the wrong plant and/or falling to give them proper care.  Healthy plants are often likely to have fewer insects, mites or diseases.  It's very important the person responsible for school landscaping has the knowledge needed to do the job with post management in mind.


For more information about pests and IPM, consider these resources: Pest Facts Information Center ( - visit this web site sponsored by RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) for Information about children’s health in schools, IPM and the risks posed by posts.  School I PM website ( - The University of Florida, Gainesville, has created an IPM website that provides tools for schools to begin an IPM program.  The site responds to parental concerns regarding pesticide use and contains links to additional state I PM programs.

By Implementing a school I PM program that includes the judicious use of pesticides, school administrators and facilitators can be sure students won't be sharing classrooms, cafeterias and playgrounds with insects, rodents and woods that pose serious health and safety risks.

Allen James Is executive director of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) headquartered In Washington, D.C.

Allen James is executive director of

RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), headquartered in

Washington, D.C.

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