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Pesticide Use in Schools is Not a Common Occurrence

By Chris Williams on September 9, 2016.

My third-grade daughter says that her school is going to have an exterminator treat for mosquitoes around the school. That scares me. Will they be spraying pesticide on the school grounds? Don’t parents have to be notified first? J.L., Holden, MA

“Treating for mosquitoes” can cover a wide range of control measures and most don’t involve pesticide spraying. Mosquito control can mean simply surveying and dumping standing water, or treating breeding sites with insect growth regulators, or applying pesticide to vegetation with a mist blower…or all of the above.

Trust me when I say that you almost never see routine pesticide spraying at schools anymore. Pest control companies are usually regulated as to how they can control pests in schools and they have to justify the need for pesticides.

IPM is the Norm in Schools Today

When a pest control company provides services for a school, Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is usually specified. Many schools, but not all, mandate that pest control contractors operate under the IPM umbrella when treating pest problems. The aim of an IPM program, as opposed to scheduled pesticide spraying, is to limit the exposure of children, faculty, and staff to pesticides. In an IPM program, pests are monitored by regular and careful inspections. When control is necessary for a pest, priority is given to techniques that do not involve pesticides. Trapping, sanitation, pest-proofing or sealing openings, and use of insect growth regulators are examples.

Different schools, school districts, or even states may have their own pesticide use guidelines and rules. They may even specify which pesticides can be used and they may have detailed instructions for notifying parents and neighbors before any application can be made. If spraying is going to take place at your daughter’s school, I expect you will be notified. Also, I would expect that any spraying for mosquitoes would be done at night or after school hours and would most likely use a pesticide that would last only hours.

In most cases, if a school authorizes the use of pesticides, it is because other pest control methods are not working or there is a pest control or health emergency requiring immediate resolution.

Photo Credit : By JonRidingerOwn work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11638141

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