PUBLISHED ON October 6th, 2011
There is no unified approach to pest management in America’s schools. Each state sets its own standards for pest control in educational institutions. For this reason, Portland pest control legislation guiding schools looks very different than Seattle pest control regulations for schools. Below, we’ve compared the pest management approaches of both Oregon and Washington, with a special eye on how each state handles Integrated Pest Management.
Before diving into the details, let’s consider why the question of how schools handle pest management is important. Clearly, no one wants pests in the classroom; does it really matter how those pests are eliminated?
Certainly it does matter when one begins to examine how pest control methods can impact learning outcomes. Multiple studies have linked pesticides to learning challenges. For instance, a national study that was recently highlighted in the journal Pediatrics found that students who are exposed to pesticides are at a higher risk of developing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). From Seattle to Portland, pest control professionals are increasingly trading in blanket use of pesticides for the more targeted, holistic practices of Integrated Pest Management.
Integrated Pest Management is a low-toxicity approach to pest control that considers the natural habitats, eating habits and other characteristics of pests in order to eliminate them in ways that won’t harm the earth or the health of nearby humans. Some states have passed legislation specifying how schools should use Integrated Pest Management techniques when combating pests.
For instance, Oregon prohibits the use of most hazardous chemicals anywhere on school grounds. Oregon law also states that pesticides may not be used for purely aesthetic reasons. Furthermore, Oregon codes specify that only “low-impact pesticides” may be used in schools, so Portland pest control professionals must limit which chemicals they use when eradicating pests from classrooms.
To be more specific, chemicals that the EPA labels as category I or II pesticide products may not be used in Oregon schools. (These products are discernable by their labels, which must include the words “Warning” or “Danger.”) Furthermore, Oregon schools may not use any product containing an ingredient that the EPA has decided is a known, probable or likely carcinogen. (Only two states, Massachusetts and Oregon, have this law on the books.) These rules extend to both public and private institutions and apply to preschools and other childcare facilities as well. Overall, Oregon has some of the most stringent anti-pesticide laws governing pest control in schools.
Washington, in contrast, has very relaxed legislation guiding pest control in educational institutions. The state requires that signs be posted on school property at the time of pesticide application, and for 24 hours following. Notice that pesticides will be applied must also be sent to parents 48 hours in advance. (Very similar stipulations are also included in Oregon legislation.) Seattle pest control professionals must coordinate with school administrators to follow these rules, but otherwise they may apply any chemicals they deem necessary to eliminate pests.
For the safety of their children, parents should insist that schools use Integrated Pest Management techniques to eliminate pests, even if state codes do not require it.