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Back to School: Benefits of Integrated Pest Management for Schools

Public concern over the use of pesticides on the rise, and a big reason is the health impacts these chemicals can have on children. Considering that children spend a large chunk of their waking hours at school, some states have placed a high priority on ensuring the least amount of pesticides possible are being used in and around the school buildings.

Commercial pest control services are often overlooked when it comes to creating a safe learning environment for students. When a pest or rodent problem arises, sprays and traps are copiously applied and, later, reapplied if the problem persists. All the while, the children are exposed to these excessive pesticides – and in some cases are getting sick because of them.

Due to the health risks involved with chemical-heavy commercial pest management techniques, 15 states across the country have deemed safer pest control a high priority for schools. These states have identified Integrated Pest Management as a solution that not only creates a healthier environment but is also a proven and effective commercial pest management approach that actually reduces the number of pest complaints at schools.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated Pest Management is a practice that utilizes up-to-date, inclusive information on the life sequences of pests and how they interact with their environments in order to create an individual commercial pest prevention plan for each school. Instead of coming to the building with fume-guns- a-fuming, commercial pest control services that practice IPM take a closer look to determine what type of pest control is required and which methods are least risky for the children.

Management and observation of the building is key. Commercial pest management firms applying IPM principles do not take a cookie-cutter approach; rather, they utilize a wide spectrum of less invasive procedures that can be as simple as filling cracks; removing food or water sources; replacing weather stripping; and cutting back bushes and trees away from the building.

Benefits of Integrated Pest Management

In a school setting, IPM offers a number of benefits, including:

Better health for kids. Integrated Pest Management tactics call for fewer chemical applications; in most cases, the use of pesticides is reduced by more than 80 percent. When chemicals are used, only those with the least toxicity are applied. This results in a safer and healthier learning environment for kids.

Affordability. Integrated Pest Management is affordable. School districts can spend tens of thousands of unnecessary dollars on commercial pest control services where IPM is not applied. For most districts these days, that is a lot of money that could be useful in other areas of the budget. In some states, more than 80 percent of schools spray for pests regularly – that’s thousands of dollars of unnecessary spraying when IPM could free up more than half the cost and utilize more environmentally aware methods.

Long-term savings. Several school districts in the United States have reported thousands of dollars in long-term cost savings through IPM – one district in Maryland saved as much as $6,000 in three years. States that have required the use Integrated Pest Management in schools have unanimously agreed it is a cost-effective, simple and incredibly successful program. Not only are the schools safer for students, but the money saved can be utilized in other areas: new computers, building repairs, field trips, books or supplies.

More learning. With less use of pesticides, some schools may see increased attendance because teachers and students are not suffering from common ailments due to pesticide exposure, such as asthma and headaches. Teachers will be healthier and able to create more positive learning experiences, while children will experience fewer of the learning challenges that can be brought on by overuse of pesticides.

Cleaner schools. Improved sanitation and maintenance are also potential side effects of Integrated Pest Management. IPM requires more frequent cleaning of trouble areas where food can collect and draw unwanted pests. Proper food storage could prevent infested goods and, ideally, reduce the amount of cafeteria waste.

The benefits of Integrated Pest Management are broad. Applying a dash of common sense combined with a thorough understanding of pests and their environments has proven to be an effective recipe for a healthier, happier school community. IPM makes commercial pest management more kid-friendly, and more than a dozen states across the nation have brought IPM into their schools. Has yours?

[Photo by: -Marlith-]

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