Flu bug not the only health concern for students this year
(ARA) – The H1N1 flu virus may be the newest concern this season, but it’s not the only health threat for children at school worthy of serious attention. Threats like cockroaches, stinging insects and other types of common pests like rodents are very real, affecting classrooms, cafeterias and school grounds across the country. Controlling pests like these is a daily challenge for school systems at all levels, and to do it effectively, they need access to the right tools to fight, prevent and eliminate these persistent problems.
The best way to safeguard schools against the threats and health risks posed by common, everyday pests is to use an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. IPM is defined by the federal government as a sustainable approach to pest management that combines biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks.
Following IPM means using a variety of control methods, not just one. When schools limit the tools available to keep pests at bay, they are limiting the overall effectiveness of pest control programs. Decisions to ban or limit products like pesticides can come at a significant cost to health and safety, as experts agree that the most effective programs are those that include the responsible use of chemical pest control products where necessary.
“There are many different kinds of pests that can show up in a classroom, cafeteria or a schoolyard, and there are usually several options available to deal with these pest problems,” says Allen James, president of Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, also known as RISE, a national organization representing the manufacturers, formulators and distributors of pesticide and fertilizer products. “The responsible use of pesticides is one of the options needed to keep pests out of the classroom and schoolyards safe, and when applied as part of a broader IPM approach, pesticides are very effective.
“These products are thoroughly tested, regulated and registered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” James says. “They are specifically designed to target the bugs and poisonous plants that can spread disease and pose serious health threats, and they need to be available to school systems for situations where they’re the best option available.”
Sometimes, pesticides are simply the most practical solution to reduce the risk of injury or illness related to pest infestations, and the control of cockroaches is generally one such case. The presence of cockroaches has been shown to cause significant health problems, especially for young children, and cockroach populations are extremely difficult to manage without the right tools for the job.
In 2005, the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, a federal agency funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, published a report identifying cockroach allergens as the primary contributor to childhood asthma in inner-city homes. These allergens – which include roach saliva, fecal matter, secretions, cast skins and dead bodies – were found to foster the development and onset of childhood asthma.
“Cockroaches are a difficult pest to fight without the proper use of pesticides,” James explains. “When there are several people in a relatively small space, any contact with roach allergens and bacteria is going to affect more people. That kind of situation arises frequently in homes and also in schools when you get 20 or more kids in the same room for several hours each day. In that type of environment, any kind of exposure to roaches and other causes is going to get magnified.”
According to data from the American Lung Association, asthma is the leading serious chronic illness among children under the age of 18 in the United States, affecting approximately 6.8 million children nationwide. Reducing exposure to known allergens is the best way to prevent asthma development and asthma attacks, and prevention starts with the elimination of unnecessary allergens in places where children are going to be for hours on end, like schools and classrooms.
While most of the national conversation might be centered on protecting children from the H1N1 flu virus, the new bug in town is not the only one worthy of attention. With the constant risks of asthma and other pest-related health threats, schools need to carefully consider what pest control tactics make the most sense for their specific situation. Having all of the tools available is the first step toward implementing a successful pest control program that provides the best possible protection each day for children at school – both inside and outside of the classroom.
Courtesy of ARAcontent