Pesticides in Schools Focus of National Summit
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - Representatives from schools, health groups, and state and national agencies met recently in Washington D.C. to further a nationwide school pesticide reform initiative.
Organized by Beyond Pesticides, the summit was held to collaborate and coordinate strategies among pesticide reform activists from around the country. Participants, including the Pennsylvania IPM Program, are seeking to work together to reduce school pesticide use and exposure through the implementation of safer school pest management practices such as IPM. Other participants in the summit included the EPA, the School Pesticide Reform Coalition, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Public Health Association.
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a kid-safe, economical and scientific, step-wise approach to pest management. IPM integrates knowledge of pest identity and biology with pest monitoring so that actions, if any, can be taken at just the right time. In addition, IPM uses a combination of management tactics such as biological, cultural, physical and chemical that is more likely to be safe and effective. Emphasis is placed on prevention of problems by eliminating conditions conducive to pest entry and survival, with pesticide use as a last resort.
Lyn Garling, education specialist with the Pennsylvania IPM Program, says new legislation requires all Pennsylvania public schools to provide notification to parents, students and teachers in advance of pesticide applications and requires schools to adopt an IPM plan to manage their pest problems both in and out of the classroom. In addition, the least toxic, shortest duration effective material is used. Pesticides are not applied when students, teachers or staff are present in the affected area to assure the safety of the school-learning environment. "IPM is also one of the new academic standards, and IPM must be taught as one of the units on environment and ecology," Garling explains. Kagan Owens, program director for Beyond Pesticides, says the goals of the meeting were to come together as a larger group to find ways of supporting IPM in schools and other programs and activities, and to share successes in safer school pest management. "Ultimately, we are working toward ways of solidify IPM in schools as mainstream pest management and having common successes nationwide," Owens says. "I think that is was a great opportunity to learn what is needed and share resources. It will hopefully be the first of many annual meetings, and encourage open communication between participants throughout the year," she says.
Beyond Pesticides works with other organizations and agencies to protect public health and environment by promoting toxic-free pest management. The organization provides the public with useful information on pesticides and alternatives to their use. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides Web site at http://beyondpesticides.org. The Pennsylvania IPM (PA IPM) program is a collaboration between Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture aimed at promoting IPM in both agricultural and nonagricultural situations. The PA IPM program's Web site at http://paipm.cas.psu.edu contains a wealth of information and resources for schools adopting IPM programs. By clicking on the "Schools" link, visitors can download "IPM for Pennsylvania Schools, A How-To Manual." The link also leads to information about the school IPM effort in Pennsylvania and to educational materials from across the country. In addition, the site offers an interactive database to assist teachers with IPM background information, lesson plans and support materials from throughout the United States.