By Dr. Thomas Green, IPM Institute
This fall, 50.4 million students and six million staff returned to more than 100,000 schools in 13,500 districts across the US. Unfortunately, only 15-20% of those districts have key indicators of effective IPM programs (Green and Gouge 2015).
Key benefits of IPM in schools include:
1. Lowering exposure to pests and pesticides – IPM programs in schools have reduced pest complaints and pesticide use by up to 90% (Reviewed in Chambers et al. 2011).
2. Improving student attendance and performance.
a. Asthma is the number one cause of student and staff absences in schools.
b. Cockroach allergen levels in schools have been highly significantly correlated with student asthma prevalence (Amr et al. 2003).
c. Pest-related asthmagens can be more prevalent in schools than homes; students in classrooms with higher mouse allergens were absent more (Sheehan et al. 2009).
d. Students missing two or more days of school per month have lower grades (Balfanz et al. 2013).
e. Schools have increased graduation rates by 8-50% and improved student grades by improving attendance rates (Baltimore Education Research Consortium 2011, Roderick et al. 2014).
f. Multiple states distribute funds based on attendance; absences can cost school districts as much as $93 per student per day.
3. Saving money: Up to $32,000 in annual pest control cost savings have been reported by school districts transitioning to IPM (reviewed in Chambers et al. 2011).
4. Reducing food safety risks: E. coli and Campylobacter, Histoplasma, Listeria, Salmonella spp. are among the pathogens with well-documented associations with cockroaches, flies, rodents and/or birds (Bonefoy et al. 2008).
5. Additional benefits include reducing risk of insect stings and allergic reactions, lowering fire risk by eliminating rodent chewing on wires, and reducing heating and cooling losses by installing door sweeps that keep insects and rodents out!
USDA, US EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend IPM for schools. School IPM has been an EPA Administrator priority since 2010, and in 2016, EPA convened a roundtable with leaders representing 21 national organizations committing to support IPM in schools. The National School IPM Working Group with more than 200 members has been coordinating and collaborating since 2008, and members have led development of Stop School Pests standardized IPM training soon to be launched for nine key roles in schools, including food service, custodial and maintenance which are so critical to pest prevention, and ISchool Pest Manager which is now available as a portal for high quality educational resources. The nationally coordinated effort measured a 4x increase in states with school IPM programs, a 4x increase in IPM communications, and 3x increase in participation in IPM training between 2008 and 2012, and remains committed to IPM in all of our public K-12 schools by 2020.
Amr S., M.E. Bollinger, M. Myers, R.G. Hamliton, S.R. Weiss, M. Rossman, L. Osborne, S. Timmons, D.S. Kimes, E.R. Levine and C.J. Blaisdell. 2003. Environmental allergens and asthma in urban elementary schools. Ann. Allergy Asthma Immunol. 90(1):34–40.
Balfanz, Robert and Byrnes, Vaughan (2013), Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absenteeism. Everyone Graduates Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Education. 67 pp. http://www.attendanceworks.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/NYC-Chronic-Absenteeism-Impact-Report-Nov-2013.pdf
Baltimore Education Research Consortium. 2011. Destination Graduation: Sixth Grade Early Warning Indicators for Baltimore City Schools: Their Prevalence and Impact. 16 pp. http://www.baltimore-berc.org/pdfs/SixthGradeEWIFullReport.pdf
Bonefoy, X., H. Kampen and K. Sweeney. 2008. Public Health Significance of Urban Pests. World Health Organization. 292 pp. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/98426/E91435.pdf
Chambers, K., T. Green, D. Gouge, J. Hurley, T. Stock, Z. Bruns, M. Shour, C. Foss, F. Graham, K. Murray, L. Braband, S. Glick and M. Anderson. 2011. The Business Case for Integrated Pest Management in Schools: Cutting Costs and Increasing Benefits. 8 pp. http://www.ipminstitute.org/school_ipm_2015/ipm_business_case_print_version.pdf
Green, T.A., and D.H. Gouge, eds. 2015. School IPM 2020: A Strategic Plan for Integrated Pest Management in Schools in the United States. Version 3.0. 316 pp. http://www.ipminstitute.org/school_ipm_2020/SCHOOL_IPM_2020_V3_070615.pdf
Roderick, M., T. Kelly-Kemple, D.W. Johnson and N.O. Beechum. 2014. Preventable Failure: Improvements in Long-Term Outcomes when High Schools Focused on the Ninth Grade. University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. 16 pp. https://consortium.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/publications/On-Track%20Validation%20RS.pdf
Sheehan, W.J., P.A. Rangsithienchai, M.L. Muilenberg, C.A. Rogers, J.P. Lane, J. Ghaemghami, D.V. Rivard, K. Otsu, E.B. Hoffman, E. Israel, D.R. Gold and W. Phipatanekul. 2009. Mouse allergens in urban elementary schools and homes of children with asthma. Ann. Allergy Asthma Immunol. 102(2):125-130.
US EPA. 2012. Strategic and Implementation Plans for School Integrated Pest Management. 13 pp. http://www.epa.gov/pestwise/ipminschools/strategicplan.pdf