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North Carolina Makes Commitment to Safer School Pest Management
(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2004)
It's health and safety first for public schools making pest control decisions, according to a Declaration signed on March 4th by state officials and community partners. Representatives including the Agricultural Resources Center and North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Britt Cobb signed a Memorandum of Understanding that they hope will pave the way for the adoption of Integrated Pest Management in North Carolina public schools.

Several North Carolina school districts including Wake, Nash-Rocky Mount and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County already use Integrated Pest Management to control pests and reduce students' exposure to pesticide residues. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a system that focuses on facility inspections, sanitation, and structural repairs to eliminate pest habitat, prevent infestations, and thereby reduce or eliminate the need for costly pesticide applications in sensitive areas such as schools.

North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Commissioner Britt Cobb summarized the purpose of the agreement: "This MOU represents the critical first step: making a commitment to a healthier learning environment for children."

"What IPM really comes down to is doing the right thing for kids," stated Jim Reuter, Facilities Director for Nash Rocky-Mount Schools and President of the NC Public Schools Maintenance Association (NCPSMA). His association, along with several others, is represented in the agreement.

"Children are more sensitive to the potentially harmful effects of pesticide exposures," said Fawn Pattison, Executive Director of the Agricultural Resources Center. "It is important to minimize the use of toxic chemicals around them whenever possible, and this agreement represents our commitment to do just that."

State Representative Marian McLawhorn of Pitt County welcomed signatories to the event. The signatories represented in the MOU include: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, NC Department of Public Instruction, NC DENR/DHHS Division of Public Health, NCSU Cooperative Extension Service, Agricultural Resources Center, NC Parent Teachers Association, NC Pest Control Association, NC Public Schools Maintenance Association, and the NC School Boards Association.

For more information on North Carolina school IPM, contact the Agricultural Resources Center, 919-833-5333 or [email protected] and read their recently published report Clean Schools, Safe Kids: Striving for Safer Pest Management in North Carolina Public Schools. The Agricultural Resources Center is a member of the School Pesticide Reform Coalition, a national grassroots coalition that works to protect children and the public's health from the use of toxic pesticides.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Beyond Pesticides and learn how to get your school to adopt an IPM program by:
(1) Identifying the school's pest management policy;
(2) Educating yourself and evaluating the program;
(3) Organizing the school community;
(4) Working with school decision-makers; and,
(5) Becoming a watchdog and establishing an IPM Committee.

For more information, see Beyond Pesticides' Children and Schools issue pages.