Pesticides in Schools
The use of pesticides in schools has generated considerable debate about how to manage pests while preventing unnecessary pesticide exposures. Children may be especially vulnerable to exposures to pesticides and other contaminants because they exhibit unique behaviors, and their bodies are growing and developing. Pests in schools also are a concern because they may spread disease, trigger asthma, and cause damage to school buildings and property.
Finding solutions to pest problems isn't always easy, and requires agencies, school administrators, custodians, parents, and others to work together. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), which is the lead agency for pesticide regulation and monitoring in Minnesota, provides consultation and educational materials to schools about pesticide use and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). In addition, the MDA works closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and others to investigate reports of pesticide misuse; to evaluate possible health risks from pesticide exposures; and to require licensing and training of applicators who apply pesticides for hire.
Schools in Minnesota are not required to use IPM; however, an increasing number of schools are implementing IPM practices to prevent pest problems and to address concerns about pesticide use. IPM provides a framework for eliminating the underlying conditions that allow pests to thrive, and for using "least toxic methods," such as baits and traps, to avoid unnecessary pesticide exposures. These and other elements of IPM may be incorporated into Indoor Air Quality Management Plans, as well as maintenance plans for outdoor areas, such as landscapes, playgrounds and athletic fields:
Minnesota schools that apply certain types of pesticides are required to provide notification to parents and school employees. For more information about notification and the requirements of the Parents' Right to Know Act, see Model Pesticide Notices. For additional information about school IPM and pesticide health risks, see contacts and links below.
Contacts and Links
- IPM in Schools, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- IPM School Technical Resource Center, Purdue University
- National School IPM Information Source, University of Florida
- Managing Pests in Schools, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Evaluating Your Pesticide Risk, Minnesota Department of Health
- Pesticide Safety, Minnesota Department of Health
- Minnesota Parents' Right to Know Act, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Model Pesticide Notices, Minnesota Department of Health
- World Health Organization (WHO) Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard and Guidelines to Classification