Environmental Health

Eliminate the Pesticides along with the Pest

Conventional pesticides can threaten your health, your students’ health, and the health of the environment. Pesticides target essential life functions that many organisms have in common. Therefore, pesticides intended for one organism can affect others, including humans. Even if only one organism is directly harmed, the local ecosystem can still be negatively affected because of the complex relationships between organisms.

According to Beyond Pesticides, we apply 102 million pounds of toxic pesticides to lawns and gardens in the United States in a typical year. It’s a vast problem, but your school can make a difference for your local environmental health, and it can serve as a role model for your students and for the whole community.

What exactly is a “pesticide” anyway?
Pesticides are mixtures of chemicals or other ingredients intended to ward off or kill particular organisms. They come in the form of liquids, powders, or granules. Many “cides” fall under the general term “pesticides,” and are each specifically designed to target specific pests, including:

Insecticides—for insects
Herbicides- for plants, especially weeds
Fungicides—for fungi, such as molds and mildews
Termiticides—for termites
Rodenticides—for rodents
Antimicrobials—for bacteria and viruses

Pesticides applied on school grounds both outside and inside the school can have serious unintended health consequences on you and your students. According to the EPA, they may affect the nervous system or the endocrine (hormone) system, be carcinogenic, or irritate the skin and eyes. Furthermore, the EPA and National Academy of Sciences report that standard chemicals are generally ten times more toxic to children than they are to adults.

Reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides in your school is not only a healthy choice for the people in your building, but it can actually lead to more effective long-term solutions for dealing with pests. Applying insecticides, for example, often has the unintended consequence of killing off weak individuals in the insect populations and creating a gene pool of insecticide resistant individuals. Then in the future, more and more insecticides have to be applied in order to have the same effect. The result is a never-ending problem where more dangerous chemicals affect you and the environment with even less of a pay-off.

We can help you find more sustainable, effective, and long-term solutions for dealing with these pests. There are not only safer alternatives to many of the common pesticides, but there are also systems such as IPM (Integrated Pest Management) where maintenance personnel in your school use non-toxic preventative strategies and less toxic ways of handling pest problems that are already occurring. Learn more about IPM in our Go the Extra Mile section.