Risk Management Case Study: School IPM

Illustration of classic schoolhouse.

Children are more sensitive than adults to pesticide exposure. Pests such as cockroaches can cause asthma and other health problems. Given the sensitivity of children during years of rapid growth, and since children spend much of their time at school, it makes sense to err on the safe side and use only least-toxic methods for pest control.

The EPA and most states recommend IPM practices on school grounds. Some states require it. Once the initial work and cost of establishing an IPM program is done, it usually costs less—and brings greater health benefits—than blindly using pesticides.

Best Management Practices for School IPM

A basic of IPM—and risk management—is to think prevention.

  • Keep pests out: caulk and seal holes from the bottom up, foundation to roof vents
  • Don't feed pests: keep it clean, inside and out, with proper sanitation
  • Keep plants and lawns healthy so they resist pests better

Stay alert. Scout regularly for pests. When does a few pests become too many?

In the cafeteria, kitchen, and storage areas, focus on exclusion and sanitation.


  • Seal gaps where utilities enter (water, electricity)
  • Seal all cracks in foundations, windows, door jambs, and vents
  • Inspect incoming food and packaging for pests


  • Wash fruits and vegetables
  • Identify and eliminate water sources such as leaky pipes
  • Store all food in pest-resistant packaging

For further details about school IPM, see the Northeastern IPM Center website:

"Why Is IPM So Important in Schools?" Northeastern IPM Center. April 2014. http://neipmc.org/go/mReK (accessed January 18, 2018).

"Best Management Practices for School IPM." Northeastern IPM Center. April 2014. http://neipmc.org/go/GMPE (accessed January 18, 2018).


The Northeastern IPM Center promotes integrated pest management for reducing risks to human health and the environment. If republishing our news, please acknowledge the source (“From Northeast IPM Insights”) along with a link to our website.