Want Kids to Do Better in School? This Environmental Approach Can Help

Schools are busy places, with bustling schoolyards, kitchens full of lunchboxes and trays, and kids and adults who constantly come and go. These busy environments can sometimes have pest problems that need to be addressed – like flies, spiders, yellow jackets, roaches and ants, for example.

As a parent, I know how important it is to me that my kids and their classmates have a healthy environment to learn, thrive and grow. Unhealthy school environments – including poor air quality — can affect children’s health, attendance, concentration and performance. Pest exposure can also trigger asthma, which can cause kids to miss class and a chance to learn.

I got a chance recently to recognize officials at Mooresville and Pike Township Schools near Indianapolis, IN, for their leadership with an approach called Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. Mooresville has reduced its pesticide use by 90%, while drastically lowering the number of pest sightings. Pike has had similar results, and it’s been able to link its improvements to better attendance and academic performance. Student and staff pride has gone up, and their schools are healthier places to be.

IPM means focusing on creating an unfriendly environment for pests. Through IPM, we keep pests out of our schools by sealing cracks, eliminating water sources by making sure pipes don’t leak, and taking away their food by cleaning up in and around the kitchen. IPM makes schools cleaner, safer and healthier for students and staff. And here’s a bonus: It cuts down on pest management costs and even energy costs, and ultimately saves schools precious funds.

If you’re a school official or a concerned parent, take a look at our Tools for Schools. These tools focus on school air quality, incorporating IPM into an overall strategy to protect children’s health. We encourage all schools to develop a program for managing their indoor environments, and we provide an action kit to help schools implement their own programs.

Let’s all help improve the health of our nation’s kids. Reach out to family, friends and local schools, and ask if they are familiar with the tools and techniques available to improve the quality of school environments. Spread the word about the advantages of IPM and the importance of improving indoor air quality. We can build off the successes of the schools in Mooresville and Pike Township to help students live healthier lives and save schools money, too.

Learn more about IPM in schools:  http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ipm/index.htm

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