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:
- Introduction to Integrated Pest Management
- Information on Pests in Schools and Their Control
- Contact Us About Managing Pests in School
- Webinars about Integrated Pest Management in Schools
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.