(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2009) The Oregon House of Representatives has voted for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in schools by passing Senate Bill (SB) 637. The bill, which has already passed the Senate, needs only to pass a concurrence vote in the Senate and be signed into law by Governor Ted Kulongoski. Once passed, SB 637 will require all public and private K-12 schools and community colleges to adopt IPM plans.
“The use of integrated pest management can help reduce pesticide exposures and also provide additional benefits by reducing pests and their associated allergens, possibly reducing asthma triggers. Many schools practicing integrated pest management have documented improved pest management, cost savings, and reductions in pesticide applications by as much as 90 percent,” said Senator Suzanne Bonamici. “Senate Bill 637 improves student health and achievement with cost-effective pest management policies for schools.”
The bill states: “‘Integrated pest management plan’ means a proactive strategy that: (a) Focuses on the long-term prevention or suppression of pest problems through economically sound measures that: Protect the health and safety of students, staff and faculty; Protect the integrity of campus buildings and grounds; Maintain a productive learning environment; and Protect local ecosystem health; (b) Focuses on the prevention of pest problems by working to reduce or eliminate conditions of property construction, operation and maintenance that promote or allow for the establishment, feeding, breeding and proliferation of pest populations or other conditions that are conducive to pests or that create harborage for pests; (c) Incorporates the use of sanitation, structural remediation or habitat manipulation or of mechanical, biological and chemical pest control measures that present a reduced risk or have a low impact; (d) Includes regular monitoring and inspections to detect pests, pest damage and unsanctioned pesticide usage; (e) Evaluates the need for pest control by identifying acceptable pest population density levels; (f) Monitors and evaluates the effectiveness of pest control measures; (g) Excludes the application of pesticides on a routine schedule for purely preventive purposes, other than applications of pesticides designed to attract or be consumed by pests; (h) Excludes the application of pesticides for purely aesthetic purposes; (i) Includes school staff education about sanitation, monitoring and inspection and about pest control measures; (j) Gives preference to the use of nonchemical pest control measures; and (k) Allows the use of low-impact pesticides if nonchemical pest control measures have proven ineffective.
It continues: “‘Low-impact pesticide’ means a pesticide product or active ingredient that: (a) Does not have the signal words ‘warning’ or ‘danger ‘ on the label; and (b) Is not on the list adopted by the State Department of Agriculture under section 9 (4) of this 2009 Act.”
Beyond Pesticides’ definition of IPM includes a clear delineation of steps to prevent the “need” for pesticides: monitoring; record-keeping; action levels; prevention; tactics criteria; and evaluation. For more on how least-toxic pesticides are defined, see our factsheet.
Other stipulations of the bill require at least 24 hours notice and clear posting of pesticide applications and allow “a pesticide other than a low-impact pesticide” to be applied in a declared “pest emergency.”
In addition to requiring IPM policies, the bill also allows governing bodies to pass more protective measures than this baseline.
“We applaud both chambers for recognizing the importance of the issue and supporting common-sense strategies to protect the health of the school children in our state,” said Renee Hackenmiller-Paradis MPH, PhD, program director at the Oregon Environmental Council.
SB 637 comes six months after a report by the Oregon Toxics Alliance (OTA) showed extensive records of incidents where children were exposed to pesticides at school. OTA recommended that the state take immediate action to reduce circumstances where children’s health may be harmed. At the time, OTA Executive Director Lisa Arkin said, “Oregon lacks a statewide policy to ensure safe pest management practices at schools. That is incomprehensible, because twenty-five percent of the states have already taken such action.”
IPM and other pesticide-reduction plans are critical to protecting children’s health, due to the amplified effect pesticides have on their growth. Learn more about children and pesticides in Beyond Pesticides’ fact sheet “Children and Pesticides Don’t Mix” and the brochure “Asthma, Children, and Pesticides.” You can find additional information including model policies, resources, and publications on the Children & School program page. You can help protect children in all 50 states by supporting the School Environmental Protection Act (SEPA). You representatives need to hear of its importance from you!