Schools Toxic Pest Dilemma

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As state legislatures pass “Healthy Schools Acts” schools are forced to scramble for an integrated pest management strategy that works on pests and doesn’t endanger children with a major health risk.

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it goes into cracks, crevices, and ceilings. I have done this, and we actually have a video of cockroaches raining out of the ceiling.

Since 2000, a growing number of schools across the nation have been required by their states “Healthy School Acts” to have an integrated pest management plan to deal with the danger to children and teachers’ from pests. The danger is real. The solution is problematical, since these laws can also require schools to find a process that doesn’t expose everyone to dangerous pesticides. And those processes are hard to find.

Schools are often the perfect target for a pest. Whether you are talking about a school kitchen with its storehouse of food or something as innocent as macaroni art in a classroom, there are temptations everywhere. And with the pests, come a host of problems. If a cockroach walks across food in the kitchen, the food is tainted. When they shed, cockroaches can be a threat to anyone who suffers from asthma. Pest waste material can carry a world of different diseased organisms.

But often, traditional pesticides can offer serious consequences. Recent government studies have concluded that schools have been using suspected carcinogens, nerve or reproductive toxins. In some cases, there have even been deaths. According to an article in the LA Times, “Children and toxic pesticides simply don’t mix.”

“Let’s face it,” says Bill Currie, director of the International Pest Management Institute, “we haven’t found a spray that stays in one place. And any liquid is going to off-gas into the air.” Sometimes these effects on health don’t appear for years, but one study showed the effect could be immediate. In one state, the public health service found that school children could not write legibly on Monday afternoon after a pesticide had been used Friday evening when the school was empty. In this case it was exposure to the fumes two days after spraying that appeared to affect the students.

LA Unified Schools, among many others, has turned to a method that does not use pesticides at all. The process, called ”ThermaPure”, it is licensed by E-Therm and uses superheated, dehumidified air to kill pests. There are no chemicals used, just superheated air that can raise the room temperature to as high as 150 degrees F for several hours, that’s about the temperature of a mild sauna. That heat kills mold, termites, cockroaches, and just about any other insect pest imaginable - and is even used to exclude rodents.

“It will go into areas you can’t go with a sprayer,” adds Currie, “it goes into cracks, crevices, and ceilings. I have done this, and we actually have a video of cockroaches raining out of the ceiling.”

Fear of pesticides has school officials in many states asking for this new process.

Another advantage in using heat is when thermal imaging cameras are used. These show where heat is escaping which reveals the places pest are getting in. Covering up those entrances will help keep the facility pest free. “It is certainly less risk,” states Currie, “I am not anti-pesticide, but there are some that have a good deal of risk, and let’s face it, pesticides are designed to kill things.”

For more information contact:

Bill Currie

P.O. Box 474

Ash Fork, AZ 86320

Phone: 928-637-2378


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