Common IPM Terms
action threshold – The point where treatment becomes necessary because of the pest population. This varies with the pest’s effect on human health or safety. Example: turf weeds on a practice field are commonly a high threshold pest; a wasp nest on playground equipment has a very low action threshold and requires immediate attention.
active ingredient – The ingredient in a pesticide product that kills the pest. Some products contain two or more active ingredients.
acute effect – An adverse effect on any living organism in which severe symptoms develop rapidly and often subside after the exposure stops.
acute toxicity – Adverse effects that result from a single dose or single exposure of a chemical; any poisonous effect produced within a short period of time, usually less than 96 hours. This term refers to results found when testing is done on animals.
allergen – A substance, such as pollen, some foods, cockroach droppings or pet dander, which can cause an allergic reaction. When the immune systems of sensitive individuals recognize these substances as foreign or dangerous, they may have an allergic reaction.
allergic reaction – An overreaction of the body’s defense or immune system to an allergen. Allergic reactions can include hives, breathing difficulties, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, rapid loss of blood pressure or loss of consciousness.
antimicrobial pesticide – A pesticide used to kill microbial pests such as viruses, bacteria, algae and protozoa. Antimicrobials are used to disinfect or sanitize.
arthropods – Animals without a backbone or spinal cord. Examples are insects with hard shells and spiders.
asthma trigger – Allergens and irritants that can initiate an asthma attack; triggers include pollen, mold, house dust mites and cockroach particles.
attractants – Substances used in traps to lure pests—both to monitor pest populations as well as reduce the pest numbers.
beneficial organism – A living thing that provides benefits to humans—for example, a predatory insect that reduces pests by feeding on them.
best management practices (BMPs) – Established recommendations to manage a resource or environment with minimal negative effects such as protecting surface water from pesticide run-off. Also, the consistent use of preventive actions to reduce the need for chemical treatments.
biochemicals – Chemicals that are either naturally occurring or similar to naturally occurring substances. Examples include hormones, pheromones, and enzymes. Biochemicals function as pesticides through nontoxic, nonlethal modes of action, such as disrupting the mating pattern of insects, regulating growth, or acting as repellants. Biochemicals tend to be environmentally compatible and are thus important to Integrated Pest Management programs.
biological pesticide – A chemical which is derived from plants, fungi, bacteria, or other non-man-made synthesis and which can be used for pest control.
broadcast – To broadcast a pesticide is to cover a large area with sprays or granules. Spot spraying is a preferred and more restrictive way to apply a pesticide.
carcinogen or carcinogenic – Capable of causing cancer. A suspected carcinogen is a substance that may cause cancer in humans or animals.
certified applicator – A person who is authorized to apply “restricted-use” pesticides as result of meeting requirements for certification under FIFRA-mandated programs. Applicator certification programs are conducted by states, territories and tribes in accordance with national standards set by EPA. “Restricted use pesticides” may be used only by or under the direct supervision of specially trained and certified applicators.
chronic effect – An adverse effect on any living organism in which symptoms develop slowly over a long period of time or recur frequently.
commercial applicator – A person applying pesticides as part of a business applying pesticides for hire, or a person applying pesticides as part of his or her job with another (not for hire) type of business, organization or agency. Commercial applicators often are certified, but need to be so only if they use restricted-use pesticides.
conventional pesticides – Pesticides that are chemicals or other substances developed and produced primarily or only for use as pesticides. The term is generally used in reference to active ingredients and does not apply to biological pesticides.
cumulative risk – The added or cumulative effect of being repeatedly exposed to chemicals bearing similar toxicity risks.
disinfectant – A chemical that destroys vegetative forms of harmful microorganisms, but does not ordinarily kill bacterial spores.
dose – The amount of a toxic substance taken into the body over a given period of time. Used to monitor exposure levels.
ecosystem – The combination of living (plants, insects, birds, animals) and nonliving (air, water, mineral, weather) components of an environment.
effluent – Wastewater discharged from a point source, such as a pipe.
efficacy – Describing how efficient something is at doing its job or fulfilling its purpose.
endocrine disruption – Changes or disruption to the endocrine system in humans and wildlife caused by certain chemicals; these changes affect hormone levels and functions.
environmental audit – An independent assessment (not conducted by the EPA or other agencies) of a facility’s compliance policies, practices, and controls. Many pollution prevention initiatives require an audit to determine where wastes may be reduced or eliminated, or where energy can be conserved.
EPA Registration Number (EPA Reg. No.) – A two-part number assigned by EPA to identify each pesticide product registration (e.g., 1253-79). The first number is the manufacturer number; the second number (after the dash) is the product number. This registration number must appear on the product’s label.
exempt pesticide – Certain requirements of the Healthy Schools Act (recordkeeping, written notification and posting) do not apply to products used as self-contained baits or traps; gels or pastes used as crack-and-crevice treatments; pesticides exempted from regulation by U.S. EPA may include some antimicrobials and sanitizers.
exposure – Contact with a substance through different routes such as the skin or eyes (dermal), inhalation or swallowing (ingesting).
FDA – U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is involved in regulation of pesticides in the United States, particularly enforcement of tolerances in food and feed products.
feral cat – Wild, including having escaped from domestication and become wild.
FIFRA – The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act was enacted in June 25, 1947. The Act instructs the EPA to regulate: 1) the registration of all pesticides used in the United States, 2) the licensing of pesticide applicators, 3) re-registration of all pesticide products, 4) the storage, transportation, disposal, and recall of all pesticide products.
FQPA – The Food Quality Protection Act was enacted on August 3, 1996 to ensure the safety of food in the United States.
fumigants – Gas or vapor pesticides intended to destroy pests in the house or in the ground.
fungicides – A pesticide used to control or destroy fungi on food or grain crops.
fungus – Fungi seem similar to plants but are not plants and have no leaves, flowers, or roots.
garbage – Food waste (animal and vegetable) resulting from the handling, storage, packaging, sale, preparation, cooking, and serving of foods.
generalist – An organism with the ability to adapt and survive in a wide variety of circumstances because they do not have specialized needs.
ground water – Water found below the surface of the land, usually in porous rock formations. Ground water is the source of water found in wells and springs and is used frequently for drinking.
growth regulator – A chemical that increases, decreases, or changes the normal growth or reproduction of an insect or plant.
habitat modification – A process used to reduce or eliminate food, water, harborage, and entry points that attract and sustain pest populations.
hazardous chemical – EPA’s designation for any hazardous material that requires a Material Safety Data Sheet. Such substances are capable of producing adverse physical effects (fire, explosion, etc.) or adverse health effects (cancer, dermatitis, etc.). MSDS sheets are being updated and will be referred to as SDS.
health assessment – An evaluation of available data on existing or potential risks to health on a specific site.
herbicide – A pesticide designed to control or kill plants, weeds, or grasses. Almost 70% of all pesticide used by farmers and ranchers are herbicides.
hardware cloth – Stiff metal screening used to prevent pest entry (especially vertebrate pests) via openings such as house vents. It resembles chicken wire, except that the holes of hardware cloth are smaller, square, and a thicker gauge.
Healthy Schools Act – In January 2001, the Healthy Schools Act established right-to-know requirements such as notification, posting, and recordkeeping for pesticides used at public schools and childcare facilities. In January 2007, the law was expanded to protect children in private childcare facilities.
High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner – A special vacuum cleaner that can remove very small particles from floors, window sills, and carpets without distributing them back into the air.
host plant – A plant that is used by an organism such as disease or insect as part of their life cycle.
illegal pesticide – A pesticide that is either not registered in your state, or is registered but repackaged in a way that violates the law. It is best to purchase pesticide products in stores, not at flea markets or on the Internet. Avoid using a pesticide that has been stored for a long time, since labels may have changed, and the product may no longer be legal for use.
incineration – The destruction of solid, liquid, or gaseous wastes by controlled burning at high temperatures. Hazardous organic compounds are converted to ash, carbon dioxide, and water. Burning destroys organics, reduces the volume of waste, and vaporizes water and other liquids the wastes may contain. The residue ash produced may contain some hazardous material, such as noncombustible heavy metals, concentrated from the original waste.
indoor air – Air inside a habitable structure—at times affected by a lack of exchange with fresh oxygen from outdoors. Solvents, smoke, paints, furniture glues, carpet padding, and other synthetic chemicals trapped indoors contribute to an often unhealthy environment.
industrial waste – Unwanted materials produced in or eliminated from an industrial operation and categorized under a variety of headings, such as liquid wastes, sludge, solid wastes, and hazardous wastes.
inert ingredients – Substances that are not “active,” such as water, petroleum distillates, talc, corn meal, or soaps. When discussing pesticides, inert ingredients do not attack a particular pest, but some are chemically or biologically active, causing health and environmental problems.
infestation – The presence of pests such as rodents or cockroaches. Sometimes the pests themselves cannot be seen, but you’ll notice the damage they cause (e.g., gnawing) or evidence they’ve left (e.g., droppings).
insecticide – A pesticide used to kill or prevent the growth of insects.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – The use of pest and environmental information in conjunction with available pest control technologies to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to persons, property and the environment.
IPM Committee – This group addresses pest management issues on an ongoing basis. The committee should include representation from all segments of the school community, including administration, staff and parents. The role of the committee is to formulate IPM policy and plans and to provide oversight and ongoing decision-making, incorporating input from all interested parties.
IPM Continuum – The progression of pest management strategies toward least-risk, long-term prevention and avoidance of pest problems. The Continuum begins with a focus on monitoring and chemical suppression when pests approach unacceptable levels, and ends with balanced systems where pests remain at tolerable levels with minimal cultural and biological interventions.
IPM Coordinator – The school employee responsible for day-to-day interpretation of the IPM policy for a school or school system. The IPM Coordinator may or may not be a pest management professional, but is the decision-maker who receives specialized training in IPM, accesses the advice of professionals and chooses a course of action. For example, the IPM Coordinator may be the facilities manager or environmental manager. For schools with an in-house professional pest management program, the IPM Coordinator may also be the Pest Manager.
IPM Plan – A written document that includes specific information about the school’s IPM program, such as IPM roles for all school staff, parents, students and other community members; pesticide application notification policies; list of key pests; action thresholds, a risk-based hierarchy of control options and prevention/avoidance strategies to be used for key pests; inspection schedules for school facilities; policies for working with outside contractors; lists of resources for resolving technical questions; and other pertinent information. The IPM Plan provides an excellent tool for training new personnel including during management transitions. The Plan is a “living document” updated frequently with new information as it becomes available. IPM Plans are often developed in binder format so that information can be easily added and updated.
IPM Policy – A written document stating a school’s commitment to IPM and defining overall IPM goals. This document is updated periodically and used to guide decision-making as the IPM program is implemented.
irritant – A substance that can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, or respiratory system. An irritant can cause an acute effect from a single high-level exposure, or chronic effects from repeated, low-level exposures. Some examples of irritants are chlorine, nitric acid, and various pesticides.
key pest – An insect, mite, disease, nematode or weed that frequently results in unacceptable damage and thus typically requires a control action. Key pest status is dependent on action thresholds set for the pest. For example, cutworms may be a key pest on high-visibility athletic fields, but not on adjacent lawn areas where the typical level of cutworm damage is very tolerable. Routine or regularly scheduled pesticide applications can mask key pests, which may not become apparent for some time after routine pesticide applications have been stopped.
leachate – Liquid that percolates through a landfill and has picked up dissolved, suspended, and/or microbial contaminants from the waste. Leachate can be compared to coffee: water that has percolated down through the ground coffee.
least-toxic – Refers to pest management products and techniques that have one or more of the following characteristics: have low or no acute or chronic toxicity to humans; are formulated to be applied in a manner that limits or eliminates exposure of humans and other nontarget organisms.
Lethal Concentration 50 (LC 50) – A concentration of a pollutant or effluent at which 50% of the test organisms die; a common measure of acute toxicity via inhalation.
Lethal Dose 50 (LD 50) – The dose of a toxicant that will kill 50% of test organisms within a designated period of time via dermal or oral entry. The lower the LD 50, the more toxic the compound.
Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level (LOAEL) – The lowest dose in a toxicity study resulting in adverse health effects.
management unit – Dividing sections of a building or the landscape into management units permits more accurate response to site-specific conditions. For example, it is often a good idea to divide school lawns into front and back lawn management units. Front lawn and back lawns may have different soil types, shading, slopes, etc. By sampling and testing soil from those areas separately, test results and fertilization will be more precise and give better results. Pest monitoring can also be conducted separately and action thresholds set higher for front lawns, because appearance is more critical than for less visible back lawns. In school buildings, pool and locker room areas, food preparation and service areas, and boiler rooms are examples of specific management units.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) – Printed material concerning a hazardous chemical, or Extremely Hazardous Substance, including its physical properties, hazards to personnel, fire and explosion potential, safe handling recommendations, health effects, firefighting techniques, reactivity, and proper disposal. Originally established for employee safety by OSHA. Now replaced with Safety Data Sheets (SDS), an updated style for more consistent organization of information.
microbial pesticides – Microorganisms that kill or inhibit pests. Sometimes microorganisms get rid of pests simply by growing larger in numbers, using up the pests’ food supply, and invading the pests’ environment.
microorganisms – Bacteria, yeasts, simple fungi, algae, protozoans, and a number of other organisms that are microscopic in size.
mildews – Thin coatings of powdery fungi that can grow on damp surfaces like bathroom tiles and corners of the bathtub.
mites – Eight-legged animals (arthropods) that feed on plants, animals or stored food.
miticides – (also called acaricides) Pesticides that kill mites.
mitigation – Measures taken to reduce adverse effects.
molds – Furry fungi that grow on damp surfaces.
molluscicides – Pesticides that kill snails and slugs.
monitoring – The process of determining what kind of pests are present, their location, and the size of their populations. Pests are monitored via direct inspection, pheromone and food baits, tracking powder, mechanical traps, and glue boards as necessary.
morbidity – Rate of incidence of disease.
mortality – Death or death rate.
MSDS – Material Safety Data Sheet (see above).
mutagenicity – The property of a chemical that causes the genetic characteristics of an organism to change in such a way that future generations are permanently affected.
nematicides – Pesticides that kill nematodes (microscopic, wormlike organisms).
nocturnal – Active at night (e.g., cockroaches, raccoons, rats, etc.).
nymph – The immature stage of an insect that passes through three stages (egg, nymph, and adult) in its development.
nonpoint source – Any source of pollution not associated with a distinct discharge point. Includes sources such as rainwater, runoff from agricultural lands, industrial sites, parking lots, and timber operations, as well as escaping gases from pipes and fittings.
nontarget organism – Any organism that is affected by a control measure but is not the intended target.
No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) or No Observed Effect Level (NOEL) – A level of exposure which does not cause observable harm.
nutrients – The substances needed to nourish and sustain life; a lack of correct nutrients in a diet leads to failing health in animals and plants.
odor threshold – The lowest concentration of a substance in air that can be smelled. Odor thresholds are highly individual.
organism – Any living being, whether plant, mammal, bird, insect, reptile, fish, crustacean, aquatic or estuarine animal, or bacterium.
pathogen – A microorganism, usually a bacterium, fungus, mycoplasma or virus that can cause disease when a host is present under the right environmental conditions.
pathway of exposure – The physical course a pesticide takes from the source to the organism exposed (e.g., through food or drinking water consumption or residential pesticide uses).
PCO – Pest Control Operator.
permeability – The ease with which water, or other fluid, passes through a substance.
Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) – Workplace exposure limits for contaminants established by OSHA.
permit – A legal document issued by local, state and/or federal authorities containing a detailed description of the proposed activity and operating procedures, as well as appropriate requirements and regulations. The permitting process includes provisions for public comment.
pest – A term applied to an organism (e.g., insect, mite, disease, nematode, weed, vertebrate, microbe, etc.) when it causes a problem to humans. Note: a pest in one environment can be very beneficial in another.
pesticide – Substances intended to repel, kill, or control any species designated a “pest” including weeds, insects, rodents, fungi, bacteria, or other organisms. The family of pesticides includes herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, and bactericides.
pesticide residue – A film of pesticide left on the plant, soil, container, equipment, handler, etc. after application of the pesticide.
pesticide usage – Refers to actual applications of pesticides, generally in terms of quantity applied or units treated.
pest manager – The individual who conducts actions and/or directs others to maintain effective pest management at a site. The Pest Manager receives specialized pest management and IPM training. The Pest Manager may be a school employee or a professional Pest Manager contracting with the school. Only licensed pesticide applicators may apply pesticides. For schools with an in-house professional pest management program, the IPM Coordinator may also be the Pest Manager.
pH – The measure of acidity or alkalinity of a chemical solution, from 0–14. Anything neutral, for example, has a pH of 7. Acids have a pH less than 7, bases (alkaline) greater than 7.
pheromones – A chemical substance released by an organism into their environment that elicits a physiological and/or behavioral response in another individual of the same species. Pheromones can be used in pest management to disrupt mating behavior.
PMP – Pest Management Professional.
point source – A stationary location or fixed facility such as an industry or municipality that discharges pollutants into surface water or air through pipes, ditches, lagoons, wells, or stacks; a single identifiable source such as a ship or a mine.
pollution – Any substances in water, soil, or air that degrade the natural quality of the environment, offend the senses of sight, taste, or smell, or cause a health hazard. The usefulness of the natural resource is usually impaired by the presence of pollutants and contaminants.
potable water – Raw or treated water that is considered safe to drink.
predator – An organism that preys on/hunts other organism to sustain its life.
private applicator – A pesticide applicator that is certified to apply restricted use pesticides or supervise noncertified individuals for applications made on private lands (e.g., farms).
quality assurance/quality control – A system of procedures, checks, audits, and corrective actions to ensure that all technical, operational, monitoring, and reporting activities are of the highest achievable quality.
recycling – Re-using materials and objects in original or changed forms rather than discarding them as wastes.
reduced-risk pesticides – These pesticides: (1) reduce risks to human health; (2) reduce risks to nontarget organisms; (3) reduce the potential for contamination of valued, environmental resources, or (4) broaden adoption of IPM or makes it more effective. Reduced-risk pesticides may be conventional pesticides posing less risk or be biopesticides with unique modes of action, low use volume, lower toxicity, target species specificity or natural occurrence. (also see low-toxicity)
reference dose (RfD) – The particular concentration of a chemical that is known to cause health problems. A standard that also may be referred to as the acceptable daily intake.
registrant – A pesticide manufacturer that has registered a pesticide product.
registration – Formal listing with EPA of a new pesticide before sale or distribution. EPA is responsible for premarket licensing of pesticides on the basis of data demonstrating no unreasonable adverse health or environmental effects when applied according to approved label directions.
release – Any spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging, injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping, or disposing into the environment of a hazardous or toxic chemical, or extremely hazardous substance.
repellant – Any chemical which can be used to drive away insects, bears, dogs, or other pests.
restricted use pesticides – A pesticide that can be sold to or used by only certified applicators.
risk – A measure of the chance that damage to life, health, property, or the environment will occur. Risk is considered the product of toxicity and exposure.
risk assessment – A methodology used to examine all possible risks involved with a particular product or organism. Risk assessment can be divided into four parts: identification of hazards, dose response (how much exposure causes particular problems—e.g., cancer, convulsions, death), exposure assessment (determining how much exposure will be received by people during particular activities), and risk characterization (determining a probability that a risk will occur).
risk communication – The process of exchanging information about levels or significance of health or environmental risk.
risk factor – A characteristic (e.g., race, sex, age, obesity) or variable (e.g., smoking, exposure) associated with increased chance of toxic effects. Some standard risk factors used in general risk assessment calculations include average breathing rates, average weight, and average human life span.
rodenticide – A pesticide designed to kill rats, mice and other rodents.
route of exposure – The way a chemical enters an organism after contact (e.g., ingestion, inhalation, or dermal absorption).
Safety Data Sheets (SDS)) – Previously called a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), is a document that provides information on the properties of hazardous chemicals and how they affect health and safety in the workplace: the identity of the chemical, health hazards, handling and storage procedures, directions for disposal and emergency procedures.
scouting (monitoring, inspection) – Planned, regular monitoring of a crop, ornamental planting, landscape or structure for the purpose of detecting pests, pest damage or conditions conducive to pests or pest damage.
sediment – Topsoil, sand, and minerals washed from the land into water, usually after rain or snow melt. Sediments collecting in rivers, reservoirs, and harbors can destroy fish and wildlife habitat and cloud the water so that sunlight cannot reach aquatic plants. Loss of topsoil from farming, mining, or building activities can be prevented through a variety of erosion-control techniques.
sewer – A channel or conduit that carries wastewater and stormwater to a treatment plant or receiving waters. “Sanitary” sewers carry household, industrial, and commercial waste. “Storm” sewers carry runoff from rain or snow.
source reduction – The design, manufacture, purchase, or use of materials (such as products and packaging) to reduce the amount or toxicity of garbage generated. Source reduction can help reduce waste disposal and handling charges because the costs of recycling, municipal composting, landfilling, and combustion are avoided. Source reduction conserves resources and reduces pollution.
specialist – One who has specialized knowledge in one area. In nature, an organism that needs specific conditions (habitats and food supply) to survive.
surface water – All water naturally open to the atmosphere (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams, seas, estuaries) and all springs, wells, or other collectors directly influenced by surface water.
surfactant – A detergent compound that promotes lathering.
synergism – The cooperative action of two or more organisms producing a greater total result than the sum of their independent effects; chemicals or muscles in synergy enhance the effectiveness of one another beyond what an individual could have produced.
systemic – Something that affects an entire unit; in nature, any input into an organism that moves completely throughout that organism’s system.
Threshold Limit Value (TLV) – The concentration of an airborne substance that a healthy person can be exposed to for a 40-hour workweek without adverse effect; a workplace exposure standard.
tolerance – 1) The ability of a living thing to withstand adverse conditions, such as pest attacks, weather extremes, or pesticides. 2) The amount of pesticide that may safely remain in or on raw farm products at time of sale.
tolerance threshold – (see action threshold)
toxic substance – A chemical or mixture that can cause illness, death, disease, or birth defects. The quantities and exposures necessary to cause these effects can vary widely. Many toxic substances are pollutants and contaminants in the environment.
toxicity – The capacity of a chemical to do harm to an organism by other than mechanical means.
Acute toxicity: The poisoning that occurs after a single exposure (effects shortly after exposure).
Chronic toxicity: The effects of long-term or repeated low-level exposures to a toxic substance (cancer, liver damage, reproductive disorders, etc.).
toxicity testing – Biological testing (usually with an invertebrate, fish, or small mammal) to determine the adverse effects, if any, of a chemical, compound, or effluent.
USDA – United States Department of Agriculture.
vapor – The gas given off by substances that are solids or liquids at ordinary atmospheric pressure and temperatures.
vent – The connection and piping through which gases enter and exit a piece of equipment.
volatile – Any substance which evaporates quickly.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) – Any organic compound which evaporates readily to the atmosphere. VOCs contribute significantly to photochemical smog production and certain health problems.
Water Quality Standard (WQS) – The combination of a designated use and the maximum concentration of a pollutant which will protect that use for any given body of water. For example, in a trout stream, the concentration of iron should not exceed 1 mg/l.
water table – The boundary between the saturated and unsaturated zones. Generally, the level to which water will rise in a well (except artesian wells).
worker protection standards – Standards designed to reduce the risks of illness or injury resulting from workers’ and handlers’ occupational exposures; these often refer specifically to use of pesticides. Worker protection standards must be clearly understood and followed to reduce or eliminate exposure risks.