Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment

5.2.8 Integrated Pest Management Integrated Pest Management

Facilities should adopt an integrated pest management program (IPM) to ensure long-term, environmentally sound pest suppression through a range of practices including pest exclusion, sanitation and clutter control, and elimination of conditions that are conducive to pest infestations. IPM is a simple, common-sense approach to pest management that eliminates the root causes of pest problems, providing safe and effective control of insects, weeds, rodents, and other pests while minimizing risks to human health and the environment (2,4).

Pest Prevention: Facilities should prevent pest infestations by ensuring sanitary conditions. This can be done by eliminating pest breeding areas, filling in cracks and crevices; holes in walls, floors, ceilings and water leads; repairing water damage; and removing clutter and rubbish on the premises (5).

Pest Monitoring: Facilities should establish a program for regular pest population monitoring and should keep records of pest sightings and sightings of indicators of the presence of pests (e.g., gnaw marks, frass, rub marks).

Pesticide Use: If physical intervention fails to prevent pest infestations, facility managers should ensure that targeted, rather than broadcast applications of pesticides are made, beginning with the products that pose least exposure hazard first, and always using a pesticide applicator who has the licenses or certifications required by state and local laws.

Facility managers should follow all instructions on pesticide product labels and should not apply any pesticide in a manner inconsistent with label instructions. Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are available from the product manufacturer or a licensed exterminator and should be on file at the facility Facilities should ensure that pesticides are never applied when children are present and that re-entry periods are adhered to.

Records of all pesticides applications (including type and amount of pesticide used), timing and location of treatment, and results should be maintained either on-line or in a manner that permits access by facility managers and staff, state inspectors and regulatory personnel, parents/guardians, and others who may inquire about pesticide usage at the facility.

Facilities should avoid the use of sprays and other volatilizing pesticide formulations. Pesticides should be applied in a manner that prevents skin contact and any other exposure to children or staff members and minimizes odors in occupied areas. Care should be taken to ensure that pesticide applications do not result in pesticide residues accumulating on tables, toys, and items mouthed or handled by children, or on soft surfaces such as carpets, upholstered furniture, or stuffed animals with which children may come in direct contact (3).

Following the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or other potentially toxic chemicals, the treated area should be ventilated for the period recommended on the product label.

Notification: Notification should be given to parents/guardians and staff before using pesticides, to determine if any child or staff member is sensitive to the product. A member of the child care staff should directly observe the application to be sure that toxic chemicals are not applied on surfaces with which children or staff may come in contact.

Registry: Child care facilities should provide the opportunity for interested staff and parents/guardians to register with the facility if they want to be notified about individual pesticide applications before they occur.

Warning Signs: Child care facilities must post warning signs at each area where pesticides will be applied. These signs must be posted forty-eight hours before and seventy-two hours after applications and should be sufficient to restrict uninformed access to treated areas.

Record Keeping: Child care facilities should keep records of pesticide use at the facility and make the records available to anyone who asks. Record retention requirements vary by state, but federal law requires records to be kept for two years (7). It is a good idea to retain records for a minimum of three years.

Pesticide Storage: Pesticides should be stored in their original containers and in a locked room or cabinet accessible only to authorized staff. No restricted-use pesticides should be stored or used on the premises except by properly licensed persons. Banned, illegal, and unregistered pesticides should not be used.

Children must be protected from exposure to pesticides (1). To prevent contamination and poisoning, child care staff must be sure that these chemicals are applied by individuals who are licensed and certified to do so. Direct observation of pesticide application by child care staff is essential to guide the pest management professional away from surfaces that children can touch or mouth and to monitor for drifting of pesticides into these areas. The time of toxic risk exposure is a function of skin contact, the efficiency of the ventilating system, and the volatility of the toxic substance. Spraying the grounds of a child care facility exposes children to toxic chemicals. Studies and a recent consensus statement address the risk of neurodevelopmental effects from exposure to pesticides (6). Exposure to pesticides has been linked to learning and developmental disorders. Children are more vulnerable as their metabolic, enzymatic, and immunological systems are immature. Pesticides should only be used as an emergency application to eliminate threats to human health (6).
Manufacturers of pesticides usually provide product warnings that exposure to these chemicals can be poisonous.

Child care staff should ask to see the license of the pest management professional and should be certain that the individual who applies the toxic chemicals has personally been trained and preferably, individually licensed, i.e., not working in the capacity of a technician being supervised by a licensed pest management professional. In some states only the owner of a pest management company is required to have this training, and s/he may then employ unskilled workers. Child care staff should ensure that the pest management professional is familiar with the pesticide s/he is applying.

Child care staff should contact their state pesticide office and request that their child care facility be added to the state pesticide sensitivity list, in states where such a list exists. When a child care facility is placed on the state pesticide sensitivity list, the child care staff will be notified if there are plans for general pesticide application occurring near the child care facility.

For further information about pest control, contact the state pesticide regulatory agency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or the National Pesticide Information Center. For possible poison exposure, contact the local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
  1. Tulve, N. S., P. A. Jones, M. G. Nishioka, R. C. Fortmann, C. W. Croghan, J. Y. Zhou, A. Fraser, C. Cave, W. Friedman. 2006. Pesticide measurements from the First National Environmental Health Survey of Child Care Centers using a multi-residue GC/MS analysis method. Environ Sci Tech 40:6269-74.
  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Integrated pest management (IPM) in schools.
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Integrated pest management (IPM) in child care.

  4. The IPM Institute of North America. IPM standards for schools.
  5. University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. UC IPM online: Statewide integrated pest management program. How to manage pests.
  6. Gilbert, S. G. 2007. Scientific consensus statement on environmental agents associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Bolinas, CA: Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE).
  7. South Dakota State University, Department of Plant Science. Restricted use pesticide record keeping: Pesticide recordkeeping is more than just a good idea -- it’s the law!