For Immediate Release - September 17, 2010

Agricultural Officials Report Integrated Pest Management Plans at Schools Show Improved Compliance

BOSTON - September 17, 2010 - Working to ensure the safety of children across the Commonwealth, Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Soares today announced that the number of schools and day care centers in compliance with state pest control regulations has significantly increased over the past year.

As the new school year begins, 95 percent of schools have filed current School Integrated Pest Management Plans (IPM) with DAR. The number of noncompliant schools dropped by 50 percent over last year.

"Outreach efforts, including feedback from parents, are important for increasing compliance," said DAR Commissioner Scott Soares. "Although we've made great strides, achieving 100 percent compliance of schools and daycare facilities is important for providing safe learning environments for our children."

The primary objective of IPM, which is a systematic strategy for managing pests through prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression, is to keep children safe from harmful pesticides. If chemical pesticides are necessary, facilities are required to use materials and methods that are safe for the public and reduce environmental risk.

"The health and safety of children in child care is of utmost importance to the Department of Early Education and Care," said Commissioner Sherri Killins. "As part of every child care licensing study, we monitor each program's use of a pest management plan. We are working with the Department of Agricultural Resources to ensure that all programs have a plan in place and are implementing them effectively."

Approximately 2,600 schools of a total of 2,750 public, private, vocational and charter schools comply with the state IPM law this year, representing a 95 percent compliance rate. Last year, there were 200 noncompliant schools; this year there are 112 noncompliant schools.

DAR notifies schools without plans about the requirements throughout the year. In addition, DAR collaborates with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Early Education and Care to engage school principals and superintendents, and day care providers in the IMP plan process. DAR recommends that parents ask their child's school or daycare facility if they have a current IPM plan on file.

There are different pesticide use restrictions for indoor and outdoor school or daycare property. For outdoor facilities, pesticide products classified as known, likely, or probable human carcinogen as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as those that contain inert ingredients of toxicological concern to EPA, are prohibited.

List of prohibited outdoor pesticides.

The only materials permitted for indoor use are:

  • Anti-microbial pesticides, like bleach;
  • Rodenticide, insecticide bait, or ready-to-use insecticidal, which must be in tamper resistant bait stations or inaccessible areas;
  • Termiticides may only be used when there is an active infestation;
  • Lower risk products, such as garlic or mint oil.

Passed in 2000, the Children's & Families Protection Act prevents unnecessary exposure of children to chemical pesticides, promotes safer alternatives to pesticides, ensures that clear and accurate notification concerning the use of pesticides in schools and day care centers is available to parents, and promotes the use of IPM techniques to reduce schools' reliance on chemical pesticides. The law requires that schools, day care centers and school-age child care programs adopt and implement IPM plans that cover both indoor and outdoor areas. Plans must be filed with DAR and at least one copy must be kept on school premises and made available to the public upon request. Day care facilities can lose their operating licenses if they do not comply and schools that do not file an IPM plan within 90 days face a $1,000 fine.

School and daycare staff can visit DAR's school IPM website at http://massnrc.org/ipm/ for information about the Children's & Families Protection Act. DAR provides resources, which schools and daycare programs can use to create, edit, and submit IPM Plans. DAR's website guides users through the step-by-step process for submitting IPM Plans.

To find out if a school or day care facility has filed a school IPM plan, or for more information about the notification requirements and other restrictions on pesticide applications, visit: http://massnrc.org/ipm.

DAR's Division of Crop and Pest Services is responsible for the regulation of the agricultural industry and pesticide application services in Massachusetts through the diligent inspection, examination, licensing, registration, quarantine, and enforcement of laws, regulations and orders.