Massachusetts—School Policies



I. Restricted Spray Zones Around School Property


Pesticides move off the target site when they are sprayed, whether inside or outside. When sprayed outside pesticides drift on to nearby property resulting in off target residues. Buffer zones can eliminate exposure from spray drift on to school property. As a result, states require buffer zones around schools. In order to adequately protect against drift, buffer zones should, at a minimum, be established in a 2 mile radius around the school’s property. Aerial applications should have a larger buffer zone, at least 3 miles encircling the school. Buffer zones should be in effect at all times of the day. It is especially important for spray restrictions to be in place during commuting times and while students and employees are on school grounds.

State Information

Massachusetts restricts aerial crop applications within 150 feet from schools. Massachusetts Code of Regulations, section 13.05(3)(h), requires the posting of signs at the border of treated agriculture property 10 hours before aerial applications that occur within 500 feet of a school’s property. The sign is to remain posted for 48 hours.

II. Posting Notification Signs for Indoor Pesticide Applications


States use different approaches in providing school pesticide use information to parents, students and staff. Some forms include the posting of notification signs and/or the distribution of notices directly to the affected population. Posted notification signs warn those in the school when and where pesticides have been or are being applied. This is a vehicle for basic right-to-know if the posting occurs in an area where it is easily seen by parents, students and staff. It is important to post signs for indoor pesticide applications because of the extensive period of time students and school employees spend at school. Signs posted prior to commencement of the pesticide application, not after, are more protective. The prior notification system effectively enables people to take precautionary action. Because of the residues left behind after an application, signs should remain posted for at least 72 hours. It takes time for pesticides to start breaking down and some pesticide residues can least for weeks. Signs should also be posted at all main entrances of the building and the specific area sprayed, on the main bulletin board, and, for more comprehensive notification, in the school newspaper or on the daily announcements. Posted signs should state when and where a pesticide is applied, the name of the pesticide applied and how to get further information, such as a copy of the material safety data sheet (MSDS) and the product(s) label.

State Information

Massachusetts Code of Regulations, title 333, section 13.10(3)(c), requires posting signs when commercial applicators apply pesticides to public buildings. Public buildings include schools, day care centers, nursery schools, and institutions. Signs are to be posted at all entrances to the area where pesticides are to be applied before the application begins. The signs are to remain “posted after the application” (MASS. REGS. CODE tit. 333, § 13.10(3)(c)(2) (1996)). No exact amount of time is specified. Enclosed baits and traps and wood preservatives are exempt. The applicator must provide information regarding the pesticide application, including the pesticide product’s label, to anyone that requests it.

III. Posting Notification Signs for Outdoor Pesticide Applications


For a wider range of protection, states should require posting pesticide notification signs for outdoor pesticide applications as well. Students who play sports or people continually on the lawns represent a high risk when applications occur on school property. Dermal exposure can occur when a football player gets tackled, a soccer player slides to make a block or a student sits on the grass to eat lunch or watch a game. Inhalation exposure can occur when a player breathes in kicked up dust and dirt and pesticide residues. Even spectators at a game or passersby face inhalation exposure to pesticides that volatilize or vaporize off the treated area.

State Information

Massachusetts Code of Regulations, title 333 section 13.07(2), requires the commercial or certified applicator to post signs when applications are made “for the control of turf pests on public or private non-residential properties” (333 CMR § 13.07(2) (1996)). Signs are to be posted for 48 hour prior to the application and are to remain for 72 hours.. Signs are required for restricted use as well as general use pesticides.

IV. Prior Written Notification


Written notification of pesticide use is a good way to make sure that all parents, children and staff are aware and warned of pesticide use in the schools. Limited notification-based registries is a less effective means of notifying people and does not qualify as true right-to-know because of its limited scope. Requiring that individuals place themselves on registries, sometimes only with a doctor’s letter, afford only those who already know about toxic exposure the opportunity to be informed about pesticide use in the school. Prior notification should be 72 hours in advance to make sure the information has been received, to get further information regarding the pesticide and to make arrangements to avoid the exposure, if necessary. Notification should include the name of the pesticide(s), a summary of the adverse health effects listed on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and label, the day and time, and area of the application and how to obtain a copy of the MSDS and label.

State Information

Massachusetts Code of Regulations, title 333, section 13.10(3)(c), states that when pesticides are applied to public buildings, including schools, day care centers, nursery schools, and institutions, by commercial applicators, the applicator must provide prior notification to any person which requests it. Parents and staff can sign up to be placed on a registry for indoor application. There are no specifics on how long before the application notification will be or notification procedures.

A Massachusetts law passed in 2000 requires universal notification to all parents, children and staff of an outdoor pesticide application.

V. Prohibitions on Use


Limiting when and what pesticides are applied in and around schools is important to the reduction of pesticide exposure. Pesticides should never be applied when students or employees are in the area or may be in the area within 24 hours of the application. In reality, certain types of pesticides, such as carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, reproductive toxins, developmental toxins, neurotoxins, persistent compounds and substances, bioaccumulative compounds and substances, toxicity category 1 acutely toxic pesticides and ground water contaminants should not be used around children.

State Information

Outdoor pesticides that are known, likely or probable carcinogens, contain a "List I" inert ingredient or for aesthetic reason alone are prohibited from use. Certain Indoor pesticides are prohibited. Pesticides shall not be used when children are on school property. Only these pesticides may be applied:
(a) Anti-microbial pesticides;
(b) Rodenticides placed in tamper resistant bait stations or placed in areas inaccessible to children and the
general public;
(c) Ready-to-use dust, powder or gel formulations of insecticide applied in areas inaccessible to children and
the general public;
(d) Insecticidal baits placed in tamper resistant bait stations or in areas inaccessible to children and the general
(e) Termiticides used only in the presence of an active termite infestation and when non-chemical pesticide
alternatives have been determined to be ineffective; and
(f) Pesticides classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as exempt materials under 40
CFR 152.25.

VI. Integrated Pest Management


A good integrated pest management (IPM) program can eliminate the unnecessary application of synthetic, volatile pesticides in schools. The main elements of a good IPM program include: 1) monitoring to establish whether there is a pest problem, 2) identifying the causes of the pest problem, 3) addressing the cause by changing conditions to prevent problems, 4) utilizing pest suppression techniques, if necessary, that are based on mechanical and biological controls and 5) only after non-toxic alternatives have been tried and exhausted, use the least toxic pesticide. An IPM policy should include a written policy guide and a prohibited and acceptable materials list. Material that could be considered after using other methods include boric acid and disodium octoborate tetrahydrate, silica gels, diatomaceous earth, insect growth regulators, insect and rodent baits in tamper resistant containers or for crack and crevice placement only, microbe-based insecticides, botanical insecticides (not including synthetic pyrethriods) without toxic synergists, and biological (living) control agents.

State Information

Massachusetts schools are required to adopt integrated pest management (IPM). Massachusetts describes IPM as an approach to pest management that relies on a combination of pest control measures that reduce the reliance on chemical pesticides and uses the lowest risk pesticide only when needed.

Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture
Massachusetts law protecting children and families from harmful pesticides


There are 375 public school districts in Massachusetts, all of which are required to implement Integrated Pest Management. Click here to view your school's IPM plan.

Examples of Local School Pest Management Policies:

Newton Public Schools
Date Passed: September 1997
IPM: This policy is a city policy that includes the Newton Public Schools. The policy favors non-chemical methods of pest control and uses least-toxic pesticides as a last resort. Also, the policy establishes an IPM advisory committee to oversee policy implementation.
Notification: See state law above.
Prohibition of Use: See state law above.
School Contact: Doug Dickson, IPM Advisory Committee Chair, 17 Oxford Rd, Newton, MA 02459,
Phone: (617) 969-8661, Email: [email protected]
Local Organization Contact: Ellie Goldberg, MEd, Educational Rights Specialist Healthy Kids: The Key to Basics, Phone: (617) 965-9637, Email: [email protected], http://www.healthy-kids.info/

Pine Hill Elementary, Dover-Sherborn Public Schools
Date Passed: December 2001
IPM: The school's program gives preference to non-chemical methods of pest control, pesticides used as a last resort. The policy is adopted as a part of the Town of Sherborn's IPM policy which focuses on implementing an Organic Pest Management policy. OPM is defined as "an ecological pest management system that promotes natural biological cycles, soil activity, biodiversity and human health."
Notification: See state law above.
Contracted Applicator: Needham Woburn Pest Control, Inc: PO Box 920408 Needham, MA 02494.
Phone: (781) 891-5313
School Contact: Pine Hill Elementary,Pine Hill Lane, Sherborn, MA 01770. Phone: (508) 655-0630
School IPM Supervisor: Ralph Kelley, Supervisor of Plants and Facilities, Dover-Sherborn Schools,
Phone: (508) 785-0036

Wellesley Public Schools
Bates Schooland The Middle School
Date Passed: December 2001
IPM: The policy gives preferences to non-chemical pest control methods, however, "the use of least-toxic pest control chemicals will be used in the face of public health threats or substantial property damage."
Notification: See state law above.
Contracted Applicator: Waltham Chemical: Dick Berman, 817 Moody Street, Waltham, MA 02453.
Phone: (781) 893-1810 and Department of Public Works: Ron Desprisphone, 455 Worcester Street Welleslely, Massachusetts 02481-4925. Phone: (781) 235-7600 x331
Other: Each policy outlines what pests were problems in the past, what was used in the past to alleviated the problem and what will be done with an IPM policy intact.
School Contacts:
Bates School, 116 Elmood Road, Wellesley, MA 02482. Phone: (781) 446-6260
Middle School, 40 Kingsbury St., Wellesley, MA 02482. Phone: (781) 446-6210
IPM Coordinator: Dana Cotto, Director of Public Buildings and Grounds of Schools. Phone: (781) 446-6210 x4517 Email: [email protected]
Local Contact: Wellesley Pesticide Awareness Campaign,http://home.comcast.net/~little.sarah/

Harvard University's Pest Management Website


Toxics Action Network
Sherry Ayers
29 Temple Place
Boston, MA 02111
Phone: (617) 747- 4362
Email: [email protected]

MassPIRG (Public Interest Research Group)
29 Temple Place
Boston, MA 02111
Phone: (617) 292-4800
Email: [email protected]

GreenCAP (Committe for the Alternatives to Pesticides): www.greendecade.org/greencap.html
a committe of Green Decade: www.greendecade.org/
Green Decade Coalition/Newton
474 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02458
Phone: 617-965-1995
Email: [email protected]

Wellesley Pesticide Awareness Campaign
Sarah Little, Ph.D.
Pesticide Awareness Coordinators
Town of Wellesley Health Department
Wellesley MA 02482
781-431-1019 x294
[email protected]

For more contacts for local organizations, visit our Links to Local Organizations.


For more information contact
Beyond Pesticides, 701 E Street, S.E., Suite 200, Washington, DC, 20003, [email protected]