On National Healthy Schools Day, the IPM Institute of North America is partnering with more than 40 other organizations to call for greater investment in children’s health and learning, and for healthy indoor school environments. The 15th annual National Healthy Schools Day, sponsored and initiated by the Healthy Schools Network, is a national call-to-action for school environmental health that focuses “closely on two core problems,” said Claire Barnett, Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network: “that too many schools and child care facilities are in poor condition and that there is no public health support for children in harm’s way.” In response to this challenge, the Healthy Schools Network and a host of partners including the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Improving Kids’ Environment, the Association of School Business Officials International and others are raising awareness by offering resources and hosting educational events for the day.
Since children spend a large portion of their time in school or child care programs, interventions in those facilities are a good opportunity to address and reduce risks to student health. Smart pest management practices are an important component, since one of the most pressing health concerns of school-age children is asthma. When pests such as mice and cockroaches inhabit schools, they shed allergens that may create allergies and asthma in children, or trigger or exacerbate existing asthma. Improperly applied hazardous chemical pesticides also negatively impact indoor air quality and aggravate existing student asthma. Asthma impacts nearly 8.6% of school children nationally, and approximately 14.4 million school days were lost due to asthma alone in 2008.
“Eliminating and preventing future problems with mice and cockroaches in schools is critical to reducing asthma incidence, improving attendance and student and staff performance,” says Dr. Thomas A. Green, president of the IPM Institute of North America. “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the healthiest approach to achieving these goals in all our schools.”
IPM practices include inspection and monitoring for pests, improved sanitation, exclusion and baiting. Those practices can mitigate health risks in schools significantly by reducing pest levels and pesticide hazards using low-risk methods. Interventions such as IPM are affordable and feasible for all communities and can be easily incorporated into schools’ Indoor Air Quality and maintenance programs, resulting in effective pest control and savings in pest management costs.
The IPM Institute of North America is working to help make schools healthier places for students and staff by bringing together experts on school IPM in working groups and offering evaluations for schools’ current pest management practices through the award-winning IPM Star program. The IPM Institute has also developed an online IPM training course, Stop School Pests, available for free to all school staff that are involved in assuring the sound environmental health of their school. Stop School Pests is available online here, with special modules for custodians, maintenance professionals, food services staff, school nurses, administrators, facility managers, lawn and grounds staff, and teachers. A general introductory module can be used to introduce parents or school board members to the concept and benefits of IPM.
Read more about National Healthy Schools Day in this press release from the Healthy School Network and its partners!