Daily News Archive
Fight for Better Pest Management in School
(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2004) According
to The Herald-Sun a group of parents and teachers on the school board
are very concerned with the pest management practices of the Durham
Public Schools. They want the Durham Public Schools to adopt a pest
management strategy that doesn't use chemicals proven to be harmful
Billie Karel, program coordinator for the Agricultural Resources Center
and Pesticide in Education Project, an organization that advocates for
alternatives to toxic pesticides in North Carolina, said, "Most
people are surprised its even an issue." The schools use a gel
pesticide in classrooms and hallways on an as-needed basis, but in cafeterias,
Osteen, DPS superintendent of operational services, said pesticides
are still sprayed on a regular basis.
Karel's organization has formulated a prevention-based approach, IPM(link),
that had been proven to be successful in other parts of the country.
The key elements of this are educating school staff and students about
monitoring the school grounds to identify pests, keeping records of
pest problems, pest-proofing waste disposal areas, and using least-toxic
if all else fails.
According to the Safer
Schools report, written by Beyond Pesticides and the School
Pesticide Reform Coalition, at least 27 school districts in 19 states
have adopted pest management strategies that do not rely on the use
of hazardous pesticides. Of these 27 school districts are the three
largest, New York City Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, and Los
Angelas Unified School District. This new strategy has been approved
in North Carolina by Forsyth County, Wake County, and Elizabeth City.
According to the Agricultural Resources Center, IPM (link), is cheaper
than spraying pesticides. A survey found that "On average, N.C.
school districts spend $1.77 per student per year on pest control and
districts with the least-toxic pest control programs spend $1.49 per
student per year, the survey said." The new approach involves preventative
methods as opposed to spraying every month, even if there are no pests.
Representatives from several state departments and organizations like
the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the N.C. Division
of Public Health and the N.C. Parent Teachers Association signed a commitment
to creating a healthier learning environment for children and school
staff in March.
Take Action: Go to your school board meeting
and find out more information about the use of pesticides in your district.
Then contact the appropriate school board officials and tell them that
you want IPM practices implemented in your area. For a list of organizations
and government contacts in your state check out our State
Pages. Also see our Schools program