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School IPM: Children's Environmental Health Program
By moniquegarcia on Wed, 08/14/2013 - 12:35am
Protect and Enhance the Nation’s Natural Resource Base and Environment
Many schools in Phoenix and elsewhere in Arizona routinely spray their facilities with pesticides to control an assortment of fire ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes and bark scorpions. Each month the treatments are repeated as part of an outdated pest prevention program that often fails to work. Unacceptable pest populations remain a problem in these schools. At the same time, while the pesticides are applied and reapplied, parents pull their children out of school for a day or two each month to avoid pesticide exposure.
Description of Action:
An integrated pest management program (IPM) for schools in Arizona began in 2000 and has continued to expand for the past five years. It is now part of a national and international environmental health effort connecting school districts in Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, Utah, Washington, and Sonora, Mexico.
Three schools in the Kyrene School District in metropolitan Phoenix were chosen for a pilot IPM project in 2000 to control pests while avoiding reliance on chemical pesticides. A team of specialists, including University of Arizona entomologists, designed a program based on the Monroe IPM Model, originally developed by Indiana University professor Marc Lame. The schools concentrated their efforts (and capital resources) on identifying the pests, finding where they came from, and preventing their entry into buildings. The custodial and kitchen staffs also were mobilized to learn how to discourage pests. All of the openings around pipes and conduits were sealed, crawl spaces closed off, and drains and building slabs repaired to inhibit cockroaches. Trees were trimmed back and birds were encouraged to roost where their droppings wouldn’t contaminate walkways and other high-traffic areas. The Kyrene School District, observing the benefits of a good IPM program, adopted the IPM philosophy and received STAR Certification (National IPM Institute) for practicing a great program district-wide.
In 2001 a pilot program began on The Navajo Nation in three Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. The main pest issues at the sites included rodents, bed bugs and house flies. Although the program was going to expand to include all the BIA schools on the Navajo, Hopi and south Pueblo reservations, BIA discontinued program support and sponsorship in 2003. Sadly, Navajo and south Pueblo schools reverted back to regular spraying. New pilot programs subsequently began on the Gila River Indian Reservation and Hopi Reservation in fall 2002. One school had spent nearly $7,000 in pest control annually until the school IPM program brought the cost down to a few hundred dollars instead.
The School IPM program continues to grow: UA faculty have partnered with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona/Sonora Commission, Arizona Asthma Coalition, EPA Region 9, National IPM Institute, International Urban IPM Association, Environmental Strategic Alliance entities, ASU, the Navajo Housing Authority, and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
In 2003 UA faculty formed a Valley Metro School Coalition dedicated to implementing IPM in member schools. Throughout 2003-05, the program expanded to include 10 school districts in the Phoenix metropolitan area, plus the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Hopi Reservation schools. A program was established in Tucson Unified School District and in the Nogales Arizona/Sonora border area. The Arizona/Sonora Commission plans to expand IPM to all schools in Sonora, Mexico, showcasing the model process along the border regions.
Indoor Air Quality technologies are now introduced to all participants involved in the IPM Coalition, making this a broader Children’s Environmental Health Program. Child care facilities and support entities are now also joining the coalition. Child care supporters include UA faculty, Arizona Department of Health Services Breath Mobile participants and pediatric asthma specialists from the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The latter are conducting studies on the prospective health benefits of school IPM programs by monitoring students with asthma. The study involves a school district with the highest frequency of asthma attacks resulting in emergency room visits in the state. Asthma triggers include certain pest allergens, such as cockroaches, and types of pesticides. Schools that are on IPM programs not only have fewer cockroaches, but also less pesticide in the environment.
The IPM final evaluation for the Kyrene School District showed that the three Phoenix schools reduced their pesticide applications by 90 percent and kept pest populations below 85 percent of their original levels. The costs associated with IPM were no more than a traditional program.
Considering the larger Arizona perspective, there are 216 state school districts in Arizona, with a total enrollment, as of September 2005, of 1,011,959 students. So far, 303,600 of these students are in school districts that practice IPM–32 percent of the Arizona public school enrollment.
These successes have resulted in a unique coalition project launched with Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Public Health, EPA Region 9, the UA, Structural Pest Control Commission and the National IPM in Schools team. The ultimate goal is statewide implementation of school IPM practices. The Arizona state program for IPM in schools has become a model for developing children’s environmental health programs in schools across the United States.
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension; Environmental Protection Agency
The University of Arizona, Maricopa Agricultural Center
37860 W. Smith-Enke Road Maricopa, AZ 85239-3010
Tel: (520) 568-2273 ext. 223 FAX (520) 568-2556