What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
Integrated Pest Management in schools and day care centers involves cooperation between school staff and pest control personnel (e.g., commercial pest management professionals or in-house staff). IPM uses a variety of non-chemical methods as well as pesticides
, when needed, to reduce pest infestations to acceptable levels and to minimize children’s exposure to pesticides.
IPM uses a common sense approach that:
- identifies pests;
- uses monitoring and recordkeeping to regularly assess pest populations and control efforts;
- determines the pest population levels that can be tolerated based on aesthetic, economic and health concerns, that is, sets “action thresholds” at which pest populations or environmental conditions warrant action;
- prevents pest problems by improving sanitation, managing waste, using exclusion – such as physical barriers, and modifying structures to make them less attractive to pests;
- relies to the greatest extent possible on preventive as well as remedial nontoxic, biological, cultural and mechanical pest management methods;
- uses pesticides when necessary, with preference for effective products that are the least harmful to human health and the environment; and
- records and reports pest populations and actions taken, to refine pest management procedures over time.
Why implement an IPM program in schools and day care centers?
Children are different than adults. Proportionally, they have greater surface area, a higher respiratory rate, and they eat/drink more than adults. Children have a natural tendency to put objects in their mouths and they inhabit spaces closer to the ground (and pesticide-treated surfaces) than do adults. A child’s neurological system is developing and more susceptible to pesticides than those of adults. With these cultural and biological differences, children have a higher potential to suffer negative consequences from pesticide exposure.
Implementing an IPM program helps to reduce human exposure to pesticides. This proactive, rather than reactive, approach to managing pests offers better results in the long term than outdated pest management plans that rely on pesticides alone. Over time, an IPM program can also cost less than conventional pest management by reducing a school’s or day care center’s need for pesticide application.
School/Day Care Responsibilities and Illinois’ IPM Regulations:
The Structural Pest Control Act [225 ILCS 235], Section 10.2, requires public schools and licensed day care centers to, when economically feasible, develop and implement an IPM program. The statute specifies two areas of responsibility: First, facilities must submit an “IPM Form” every 5 years, providing facility contact information and stating whether IPM will be utilized in the facility’s pest control operations. Those choosing to do IPM must designate a staff “IPM Coordinator” and keep a written IPM Plan at the facility as a guideline for the pest control provider. See the IDPH guidelines for writing an IPM Plan, and sample documents (on this page). Facilities that choose not to implement IPM, need no IPM Plan, but at least one staff member must attend an IDPH-approved IPM Seminar, once every 5 years.
Secondly, in Section 10.3, public schools and licensed day care centers are required to notify parents/guardians and facility staff that want to be notified prior to pesticide applications in and around the facility. Most facilities query parents/guardians and staff annually, and those who desire notification are placed on a registry – a list the facility will notify (by telephone or in writing) at least two business days prior to each pesticide application at the facility. Not also that the Illinois Department of Agriculture enforces similar regulations for pesticide applications to school and day care grounds, including applications to turf, landscape plants, weeds and treatments for mosquito control.