IPM in Schools

Children crafting

For 180 days of the school year, kids are spending over 6 hours at school every day. The time spent on a school campus, along with a child’s susceptibility to environmental toxins are two reasons why it's important to design school environments that are healthy and safe. Unfortunately, many of our nation's schools continue to routinely apply harmful chemical pesticides for aesthetic purposes.

A 2007 study of more than 29 school districts found that nearly half were in violation of legal requirements or policies relating to pest management. Three districts even still had illegal pesticides in storage, including DDT. The top five most frequently applied pesticides in schools and child care facilities were respiratory irritants and, therefore, asthma triggers.

We believe the solution to this problem is to work with parents, teachers, school administrators and land managers to develop alternative ways to meet pest management challenges. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) emphasizes pest prevention and non-chemical pest control techniques. A recent project documented by the IPM Institute demonstrated that schools with quality IPM policies and practices have reduced pesticide use more than 90% while successfully managing pest problems.

Take Action

Call the Governor of your state and show your support for healthy schools! Some states have Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for schools but others have not taken this step toward long-term pesticide reduction. Call your governor and share your concerns with pesticide use on campuses. Ask them to support efforts to encourage ecological solutions and alternatives. See below for the number to call and suggested content.

Call and thank Governors in California and Oregon for their efforts to support IPM:

California Governor Gavin Newsom:  916-445-2841

Oregon Governor Kate Brown:  503-378-4582

Call and ask Governors in Washington, Idaho and Montana to protect kids from pesticide exposure at school:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee: 360-902-4111

Idaho Governor Brad Little: 208-334-2100

Montana Governor Steve Bullock: 855-318-1330 (toll free)

Your state not listed? Click here to find your governor.

Here are some facts you can use for your call:

  • Children are more susceptible to pollution because they eat, drink and breath more than adults relative to body weight. The same concentration of pollutants will result in a higher body burden in children than adults; and children are especially susceptible and encounter a higher level of toxicants than adults due to "spatial ecology" (spending time on floors, breathing in dust, etc).
  • National Academy of Sciences estimates that 3 percent of developmental disorders are solely attributed to a toxic environmental exposure and another 25 percent result, in part, from environmental factors.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that concentrations of air contaminants are often found to be 2-5 times higher indoors than outdoors due to the tighter buildings, reduction in outdoor air brought into schools for ventilation, reduced maintenance budgets, and the proliferation of indoor sources of contaminants.
  • The U.S. EPA recommends that all school districts implement a policy addressing the safest possible use of pesticides and the implementation of a coordinated Integrated Pest Management program as part of a long-term and sustainable approach to mitigating pests and their impacts on children’s health.
  • The costs to school districts for dealing with asthma is high and risk for exposure has been found to be higher in low income and minority schools. Over a five-year period, the incremental direct cost of asthma per person in the United States was $3,259. Absenteeism in schools cost $301 per worker and $93 per student in the U.S. (Chambers, et al, 2011).
  • In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a strong statement that children should not be exposed to any pesticides and recommended Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as a solution to reduce risk (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012).