What is Integrated Pest Management?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in schools and day care centers involves the cooperation between school staff and pest control personnel or other specialists to use 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 and their natural enemies;
- establishes an ongoing monitoring and record keeping system for regular sampling and assessment of pest and natural enemy populations;
- determines the pest population levels that can be tolerated based on aesthetic, economic and health concerns, and sets action thresholds where pest populations or environmental conditions warrant remedial action;
- prevents pest problems through improved sanitation, management of waste, addition of physical barriers, and the modification of habitats that attract or harbor pests;
- relies, to the greatest extent possible, on nontoxic, biological, cultural or mechanical pest management methods, or on the use of natural control agents;
- when necessary, uses chemical pesticides, with preference for products that are the least harmful to human health and the environment such as baits; and
- records and reports pest populations, surveillance techniques and remedial actions taken.
Why implement an IPM program in schools and day care centers?
Children are different than adults. Proportionally, they have a higher respiratory rate and eat/drink more than adults. Children have a natural tendency to put objects in their mouth and spend more time and are closer to the ground than adults. A child’s neurological system is still developing and is more susceptible to pesticides than adults. With these cultural and biological differences, children have a higher potential to pesticide poisoning than adults.
Implementing an IPM program will greatly reduce the chance of accidental exposure of pesticides to children and staff. This proactive, rather than reactive, approach to managing pests can control pests better in the long term than just pesticides alone. Over time, an IPM program can cost less than conventional pest management practices by reducing the school’s or day care center’s dependency on pesticides.
The Structural Pest Control Act (Act), [225 ILCS 235] requires public schools and licensed day care centers to, when economically feasible, develop and implement an IPM program. Please see the Structural Pest Control Act and Code for all the requirements for public schools and day care centers.