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Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Schools: Background and Overview
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
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Essential Links:

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Integrated Pest Management for Schools: A How-to Manual
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IPM in Schools
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the University of Minnesota, because of the intere...

IPM Institute of North America, School IPM
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Homeowners, schools, and businesses seeking more information for protection from pests and the healt...

<big><b>Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Schools: Background and Overview</b></big>

This topic hub will describe the hazards and disadvantages associated with traditional pest management practices (e.g. use of chemical pesticides) and introduce the concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as a means to improve the health and safety of all school facilities, while preventing waste and pollution. The contents are applicable to all educational institutions including K-12, day-care facilities, junior colleges, colleges, and universities.

According to U.S. EPA, IPM (Integrated Pest Management) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. It is a process for removing pests (including insects, rodents, and weeds) without resorting to use of hazardous chemicals. It is a combination of the best available pest control methods and is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. (

The Safer Pest Control Project defines Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as a proven method of pest control that emphasizes simple, inexpensive prevention practices that cause the least harm to people and the environment. IPM focuses on eliminating the cause of pests by minimizing access to food, water, and hiding places. (

Students occupy schools 60% to 90% of the year. Most schools are densely inhabited and frequently cluttered. Schools are often energy inefficient and are poorly sealed with many cracks under doors. Classrooms provide spaces that literally invite pests in by offering food, water, and shelter. Learning activities can use food, excessive amounts of paper, and animal research that readily attract pests.

Pests are not merely nuisances, they can also present health risks. Many transmit disease and trigger asthma and allergic reactions. Certain pests are common in schools and they can threaten the health of children, especially younger students in early child-care centers and grades K-3. Young children have increased risks associated with pests because of issues associated with development of their bodies. Some common pests found in schools and risks associated with them include the following:

  • Cockroaches and flies that spread disease are suspected of triggering asthmatic reactions from decaying body parts and droppings.
  • Hymenoptera (wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, bees) stings are painful and in some cases life-threatening.
  • Ants and termites may carry disease-causing organisms and can cause structural damage.
  • Lice infestations are uncomfortable depending upon the level of sensitivity.
  • Spider bites, though uncommmon, may be painful and can present health risks.
  • Fleas and ticks may carry disease, present health risks and can cause discomfort and possibly allergic reactions.
  • Mice and other rodents can contaminate food, cause structural damage, spread disease, and trigger allergic reactions.
  • Mold contributes to decreased indoor air quality, can create structural problems, and in some cases also attracts insects.
  • Weeds can trigger asthma and allergic reactions and create habitat for non-desirable insects and animals.

Management of pests--inside and outside--can present long-term health risks for students and staff. Conventional pest control (i.e. monthly spraying) does not address conditions that attract and promote pests, ensuring future pest problems and continued use of pesticides. Traditional methods to control pests have exposed schools to a wide range of chemicals, including some that are potentially harmful. Traditional methods for managing pests have included the following:

  • Routine pesticide spraying
  • Automatic spraying at the first sign of insects or pests
  • Over reliance on aerosol pesticides such as bombs, fumigants, and sprays
  • Little consideration for conditions that attract and promote pests
  • No recognition of or differentiation between harmful and nuisance pests.

The information presented in this topic hub has been developed to enable school administrators and facility managers to:

  • Better manage school pests, and to reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides
  • Develop a comprehensive IPM plan for the school;
  • Determine levels of acceptance of ?nuisance? pests and recognize hazardous pests
  • Access policy changes that affect school health and pest management
  • Understand the biology of individual pests and how to monitor the populations
  • Reduce costs for managing pests and reallocate those funds to education.

The ultimate goal of this topic hub is pollution prevention (P2) by preventing the release of harmful and unnecessary chemicals into both the natural environment and the school?s learning environment, to reduce exposure of pesticides to children, and to provide resources for planning a graduated, informed process for managing pests.

Benefits of focusing on IPM in schools are that it can achieve the following:

  • Educate students, teachers, and administrators about associated health hazards of pesticide and herbicide overuse
  • Promote safer management of pesticides and herbicides in schools
  • Encourage use of alternative products and procedures that do not contain harmful chemicals
  • Prevent pest infestations through thorough sanitation and comprehensive monitoring
  • Encourage schools to monitor effective trends in IPM
  • Bring the message home, so that students and their families can use IPM in their homes; explore reasons for using IPM instead of traditional methods; and learn about alternative solutions that include sanitation, monitoring, and ?uninviting? pests into the home.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Schools Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 5/2/2009