Depending on where you live, pesticide use in or around your child’s elementary school could be a major cause for concern. Pesticides may be found on non-organic produce and have also been detected in some schools’ drinking water due to agricultural pesticide runoff.

What Are the Side Effects of Pesticide Exposure for Children?

While research does vary, pesticides are known to cause toxicity when a child is exposed to a chemical in large amounts. A pesticide could trigger an acute, delayed, or allergic reaction.
Possible side effects of pesticides over the long term include:

  • Endocrine complications
  • Cancer
  • Infertility
  • Brain damage
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Organ failure
  • Skin irritation

Why Integrated Pest Management Is a Must in Schools

In order to promote sanitation, pesticides may be used within a school to control pests. However, it’s critically important that pesticides are sprayed by a trained professional in the correct volumes to protect young children in a classroom from toxic exposure.

The simple truth is that children are more sensitive to pesticides than adults. Young children in a classroom may be more likely to crawl and place small items in their mouths to increase the risk of pesticide exposure even further.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that all schools use Integrated Pest Management to control pests and protect kids at the same time. A successful IPM program can be achieved with the following steps:

  1. Develop an official pest management policy. A school can make a commitment to an IPM program by creating an official statement of their new policy. This policy will inform parents, students, and teachers that pests will only be managed to protect human health and prevent the spread of disease.
  2. Inspect and monitor school wide pests. The heart of an IPM program focuses on inspecting, identifying, and monitoring pests to choose the safest and most effective method of pest control. Potential insect infestations should be analyzed carefully before pest control measures are taken in a classroom.
  3. Use preventative maintenance. In between extermination visits, pests in a school can be kept to a minimum by taking the necessary precautions. For example, school doors should be kept shut when not in use and reinforced with appropriate weather-stripping. Food and beverages should only be kept in designated areas with crumbs and spills swept up immediately. Cafeterias and dining halls should implement the proper food storage methods, and trash should be disposed of outdoors.

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