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School Districts Call for Reduced Pesticide Use in Florida

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2007) The Duval County School Board, along with other school districts in Florida, is preparing to change its schools’ pest control management strategies by making the use of pesticides on school grounds the last resort, rather than routinely spraying, by instituting an integrated pest management (IPM) program. The school board will vote on a $195,000 annual contract with Terminix for the IPM program that may cut the use of pesticides by half. This new measure is in response to calls to reduce pesticide use in schools, especially in light of recent studies that have shown that small children are vulnerable to the chemicals found in pesticides. Children face higher risks than adults from pesticide exposure due to their small size, tendency to place their hands close to their face, engaging in activities on or near the ground, greater intake of air and food relative to body weight, developing organ systems and other unique characteristic. Asthma, and other respiratory illnesses have been closely associated with pesticide exposure.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a program of prevention, monitoring and control. It offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce pesticide use in schools and to minimize the toxicity of and exposure to any products that are used. IPM mainly focuses on eliminating or reducing sources of food, water and shelter for pests and limiting pest access into and through buildings. When adopted, IPM requires inspection of buildings to categorize problems, such as dirty food areas, openings in walls and windows and any other conditions that attract or serve as a breeding ground for pests. Such problems can be rectified without the use of chemicals by simply sealing cracks in walls and windows and sanitation.

Although there are no federal laws regarding school pesticide use and pest management, IPM in schools is not a new approach to pest management. It is a concept that has been implemented in various communities, schools, and government facilities for decades. Florida is not one of the thirty-three states that require IPM in schools, however, officials with the Clay County and Nassau County school districts said they have used IPM since the late 1990s.

Recently, Beyond Pesticides released a report that evaluates the states’ definition of IPM and essential components that are key to effective programs that trade toxic pesticides for sound public health and environmental practices.

Beyond Pesticides’ Healthy Schools Project aims to minimize and eliminate the risks posed by pesticides through the adoption of school pest management policies and programs at the local, state, and federal level, thereby creating a healthier learning environment. For more information on IPM in schools, please visit http://www.beyondpesticides.org/documents/Definition%20of%20IPM.pdf.

Source: The Florida-Times Union


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