Healthier Schools through Integrated Pest Management

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Summer is drawing to a close, and already in some parts of the United States our children, teachers, and administrators are back to school. In the United States, more than 53 million children and 6 million adults spend a good part of their day in more than 120,000 public and private schools.

Without proper care, schools can harbor a lot of pests! Pests find homes in many places in and around schools. Cafeterias, classrooms, lockers, dumpsters, school grounds – all can attract pests, and often they can gain easy access through doors and windows. Rodents, cockroaches, and dust mites are often present in buildings and can cause or inflame allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

None of us wants children and school staff exposed to chemicals, but we don’t like the idea of them being exposed to pests either! Using a smart, sensible, and sustainable approach can reduce pests and pesticide risks and create a healthier environment for our children. We call this approach Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. IPM is better for the environment and saves schools money in pesticide treatment and energy costs by improving insulation as a result of sealing cracks and adding door sweeps.

IPM programs take advantage of all appropriate pest management strategies, including using pesticides when necessary. IPM isn’t a single pest control method. As the name suggests, it combines multiple control approaches based on obtaining site information through inspection, monitoring, and reporting. Schools design IPM programs based on the pest prevention goals and site-specific eradication needs.

Do you know if your school uses IPM? Find out more about IPM in schools and talk to your school officials about the benefits of using IPM. Here are some resources you can use to educate yourself and share with your school administrators:

Hope you and your family have a healthy and safe school year!

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Tips for Greener, Healthier Lawns and Gardens

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Many Americans spend countless hours each year tending to their lawns and gardens.

Nothing frustrates a gardener more than the destructive capabilities of unwanted pests. They come in many forms, like weeds, insects, animals, molds and fungi ̶ just to name a few.

As you think about the best way to deal with pests in your garden or lawn, you may want to consider integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is a holistic, environmentally friendly, commonsense approach that focuses on pest prevention and only uses pesticides when necessary. IPM strategies allow you to manage pest damage using methods with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

Try these helpful tips when managing your green spaces:

Green Scaping - The Easy Way to a Greener, Healthier Yard

  • Outcompete weeds. A healthy lawn can compete with most weeds.
    1. Develop healthy soil
    2. Choose a grass that thrives in your climate
    3. Mow high, often and with sharp blades
    4. Water deeply, but not often
  • Choose pest-resistant plants. Many garden centers offer informa¬tion about pest-resistant plant variet¬ies. After the plants are established, they’ll save you time and money on pest control. And, some plants have their own pest resistant properties. For example, lavender is thought to help repel some mosquitoes, moths and other insects.
  • Choose plants that grow well in your region based on the amount of sun, type of soil, and water available in your yard.
  • Know your pests. Only about 5-15 % of the bugs in your yard are pests. “Good bugs,” like ladybugs and praying mantises, help control pests.

If you do choose to use a pesticide, ensure that you use it with care to get the most benefit. Reduce any risks by first always reading and following label instructions. Use only the amount instructed on the label and avoid overuse. When you have a small problem area, treat just that area, not the entire yard.

Share your photos of healthy lawns and gardens with us on Twitter @EPAChemSafety!

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

EPA Celebrates National Pollinators Week

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Each year, we celebrate National Pollinator Week in an effort to spread awareness and educate each other about the importance of pollinators like bees, butterflies, birds, and bats. About one-third of the food we eat, like almonds, berries, and many other fruits and vegetables, depend on pollinators. And I’m pleased to say that at EPA we’re working to protect them from harmful pesticide exposure.

EPA’s regulations for pesticides ensure that public health and the environment are protected. And the public can do its part by reading and closely following the label directions to ensure that they are being used safely and appropriately. At EPA, our goal is for growers to have products that protect their flowers and crops from pests while ensuring pollinators and their habitat, which are essential for gardens and farms to thrive, aren’t exposed to harmful levels of pesticides.

EPA has been working with experts around the globe since 2006 to develop a cutting-edge pollinator risk assessment process. Through our regular reviews of pesticides, we’ve also updated data requirements to better assess potential risks to pollinators.

In 2013, EPA changed many pesticide labels, prohibiting application when plants are in bloom. Since pollinators spend most of their days foraging for food, they’re usually not around when plants aren’t in bloom, which makes it a better time to apply pesticides.

Building on these efforts, EPA brought together beekeepers, growers and state pesticide regulators to help inform our 2017 Policy to Mitigate the Acute Risk to Bees from Pesticide Products, and develop pollinator protection plans. The policy encourages states to develop their own pollinator protection plans and is a terrific example of our close working relationship. It also demonstrates how communication at the local level between beekeepers and farmers who apply pesticides can be a key to protecting bees. When beekeepers learn that farmers are planning to apply pesticides, they can take steps to protect their hives.

In addition, EPA recently updated our “Residual Time to 25% Bee Mortality” (RT25) Data table.
RT25 data help farmers and beekeepers know about how long a specific pesticide may remain toxic to bees and other insect pollinators following foliar application to crops.

The Washington Post has also recently reported on some of our efforts, saying that “the Trump administration’s action [to protect pollinators] was welcome news to some environmentalists,” which demonstrates how united Americans are on this important issue.

These are just a few steps that EPA has taken to protect pollinators, and we remain committed to protecting pollinators this week and every week!

Wondering what you can do to protect pollinators? Growing different kinds of flowering plants to provide bees with pollen and nectar is one way that you can help. Another step you can take is reducing pesticide use. If you do need to use a pesticide, always read the label directions; they explain how to safely use it and ultimately protect our pollinators and our environment.

Learn more about pollinator protection at https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection.

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act: Three Years of Safer Chemicals

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Today we are proud to mark the third anniversary of the Lautenberg amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the first major update to an environmental statute in 20 years. EPA is implementing the law in a way that ensures the safety of chemicals in the marketplace and protects human health and the environment. The Important TSCA milestones outlined below were achieved through the hard work and dedication of EPA staff.

We’ve taken important steps to evaluate chemicals that are already in commerce:

  • In November 2018, we issued the first draft risk evaluation for Pigment Violet 29 (PV29) under the new law. We will release draft risk evaluations for the remaining chemicals currently under review in the coming months.
  • Earlier this year we banned sales to consumers of methylene chloride in paint removers and strengthened the regulation of asbestos to close a dangerous loophole and protect consumers.
  • We just finished collecting public comments on the next substances we’re considering for risk evaluation – both high-priority chemicals to review promptly and low-priority chemicals.

We’re pushing for increased transparency:

  • For the first time in 40 years, we identified a comprehensive list of chemicals that are actively being manufactured, processed and imported. The result of tremendous effort by stakeholders and manufacturers, this information will help us focus EPA’s risk evaluation efforts on chemicals that are still on the market.
  • After we released the draft PV29 risk evaluation, we worked with manufacturers to increase public accessibility to underlying studies and to refine our application of our systematic review framework. This framework is the way we select and review studies.
  • We are holding the first public meeting of EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) this week. The committee will review the PV29 draft risk evaluation and EPA will use its scientific advice as well as public comments to inform the final risk evaluation.
  • EPA is moving toward more real-time publication of information received regarding new chemical notices.

Finally, we’re striving to be good public stewards:

  • The TSCA fees rule allows EPA to collect fees from certain chemical manufacturers and importers for specific activities. We estimate that we will reduce taxpayer burden by an annual average of $20 million.

We’re looking forward to the years ahead of better chemical management and protection of our health and environment. We have accomplished much in the three years since Lautenberg, and we’re just getting started.

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.