Students spend a major part of each day in school – on average 30 hours each week. An independent evaluation of 29 school systems in more than 14 states revealed almost half violated legal requirements or district policies for pest control (Green et al., 2007). An unhealthy school environment with hazards from pests and pesticides has a profound effect on student health. Exposure to pests can cause asthma from allergens, food poisoning and physical harm. Asthma affects about 9.5% of school children nationally and is the number one reason for student absences. Pesticide exposure can lead to acute and chronic poisoning symptoms.
Children are particularly susceptible to pesticides, as they process toxicants differently compared to adults, have relatively rapid metabolic functions and have more exposure due to their behavior. In fact, it is estimated that 50% of pesticide exposure happens in the first five years of a child’s life.
Schools using IPM compared with conventional pesticide applications typically have lower levels of pesticide residues, lower allergen levels and lower pest exposure incidents. IPM has far reaching health impacts for students, schools and the environment.