Effective Pest Management in Routine Cleaning and Maintenance for a Healthy School Environment

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Why It's Important

  • Pesticides are products used to control or eliminate insects, rodents, fungi, bacteria and weeds in order to protect students and employees and preserve the school’s appearance. 
  • Common school pests can: 
    • Spread disease or contaminate food
    • Cause allergies and asthma attacks
    • Inflict painful bites or be life-threatening to those with allergies
    • Cause structural damage
  • However, pesticides can cause possible health hazards and contribute to environmental pollution. 

What You Can Do

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a safer, usually less costly option for effective school pest management. An IPM program uses commonsense strategies to reduce sources of food, water and shelter for pests in schools.
  • EPA’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Schools website provides several useful resources to learn more about IPM and get the tools to start an IPM program at your school. 
  • The Prevent Pests and Reduce Pesticide Exposure component of EPA's model school environmental health program provides information to help schools create and maintain clean, productive learning environments.

EPA and Federal Partners

  • EPA's Pesticides website addresses topics from across EPA, such as health and safety, environmental effects, ways to control pests, regulations, compliance and enforcement, and more. The website includes state and regional contacts as well as activities for kids.
  • EPA's Model K-12 School Environmental Health Program provides guidance for schools and school districts that are beginning to develop, or are strengthening, a school environmental health program, including the key steps for implementing a program and practical actions that schools can take to address a wide range of environmental issues associated with building design, construction and maintenance.
  • PestWise: An EPA Partnership Program is an EPA program with more than 200 partner organizations across the U.S. that are dedicated to using pesticides in a way that protects human health and the environment. The website provides an information exchange and describes technical assistance and funding opportunities.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Schools: Protecting Children in Schools from Pests and Pesticides is a presentation by EPA that provides a comprehensive overview of the steps to develop and implement IPM in schools. The presentation addresses how to conduct inspections, identify and monitor pest issues, and perform regular sanitation and maintenance.
  • Reducing Pesticide Exposure at Schools by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health explains how exposures and potential health risks to children and school staff can be reduced by avoiding routine pesticide applications through an IPM program. 

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National Organizations

  • IPM Standards for Schools on the IPM Institute of North America website offers guidance on administrative planning and policy as well as landscape and pest-specific information. The home page for the website contains a description of the Institute's certification program; a list of upcoming IPM events; and an extensive page of IPM links.
  • National School IPM Information Source describes IPM as well as common pests and treatment strategies. The website offers teacher's resources and a school toolbox for planning and implementing an IPM program. The website is maintained by the University of Florida and sponsored by EPA
  • Pesticides and Integrated Pest Management: Resource List by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on the use of pesticides, integrated pest management guidelines, specifications, training, implementation and management in school buildings and grounds.
  • Resource Guide for Integrated Pest Management in Schools/Childcares (PDF) (86pp, 2.46M, About PDFby the Midwest Pesticide Action Center provides forms and documents to help schools/childcares set up and maintain an IPM program.
  • School Smart IPM: The Sensible Way to Work the Bugs Out by the National PTA discusses the importance of school IPM to create a safer and healthier learning environment by managing pests and reducing children's exposure to pests and pesticides.

Regional, State and Local Resources

  • Sensible Steps for Healthier School Environments by EPA provides an overview of issues related to pesticides and pest management in schools.
  • The Integrated Pest Management Program on the Pennsylvania State University website hosts school-specific IPM information, including newsletters, case studies, reports, an IPM resources database and information on pest control tactics.
  • Maine School IPM Program from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry offers tools, templates and tips for implementing a school IPM program, including state manuals and regulations, a newsletter, Web resources and more.
  • The Massachusetts School IPM website describes IPM and provides information specific to parents, schools and daycares, and pest management professionals. The website is maintained by the University of Massachusetts Extension School.
  • IPM in Schools is addressed on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website, providing numerous fact sheets about treating and preventing pests on school grounds, presentations for use by school personnel and activities for kids.
  • Agricultural Pesticide Use Near Public Schools on the California Department of Public Health website presents a study of schools in the top 15 counties, finding that 36 percent of schools had pesticide use within 1/4 mile.