The Use of Pesticides on School Property
Pesticide Use Recommendations
Pesticides should be used only when other pest prevention and nonchemical control measures are unavailable, impractical, or ineffective. All pesticides must be applied by certified pesticide applicators in ways that are consistent with label restrictions and use directions.
Routinely scheduled (e.g., seasonal, monthly, or weekly) pesticide applications should be avoided, unless such applications result in an overall reduction in pesticide use when compared with all other practical alternatives.
Pesticides should be applied when no one is in the treatment area and it will remain unoccupied for the reentry timespan specified on the pesticide label. Expected use of buildings and outdoor areas must be considered prior to any application.
When more than one option exists, pesticides and application methods with the least chance of exposure should be used.
School policies should describe where and how pesticides are to be used, handled, stored, or removed. If your school does not have a policy, see our Policies and Protocols section.
Pesticide storage must be in accord with applicable state and federal laws.
Your school’s emergency management plans should have clear action points for the chance event of a pesticide spill or exposure situation.
Recordkeeping and Public Access to Records
Applicators must maintain pesticide use records for each pesticide application containing:
- The EPA registration number and the product name
- The quantity of each pesticide used
- The date applied
- The location of application by address, including five-digit ZIP Code.
There must be corresponding records of the dosage rates, methods of application, target organisms, and place of application for each use.
(Information on “place” must be sufficient enough to accurately and precisely provide Department staff with a complete description about each pesticide application and enable an individual to return to a site, identify the exact location of the application, as well as identify the individual responsible for making that specific application.)
If the applicator is hired and maintains records off your property, keep duplicate records available on site for immediate consultation in case of a health or fire emergency.
The above recordkeeping items do not have to be kept in any specific format, as long as they are maintained on an annual basis and retained for at least three years. (These records and copies of annual reports must be available.)
For consistency, the NEW Safety Data Sheets (SDS) replaces Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) and must be kept on file in the school district, as well as easily readable pesticide product labels for all pesticide products applied or in storage. In some cases, accessibility of these SDS sheets and labels online is sufficient. This information should be made available for public inspection during normal school operating hours.
Public Notification and Complaint Procedure
At the start of each semester, all parents and school staff should be informed of the IPM program, the location of important information, and the pesticide use complaint procedure for the school/district. The Environmental Health and Safety Committee, IPM Coordinator, and/or Superintendent of Facilities and Grounds (as determined by your school’s policy) should have a clear action protocol for determining use of pesticides.
Identification and Notification of Sensitive Individuals
The school, under the direct supervision of the school nurse, should maintain a registry of chemically sensitive students, staff, or others requesting special consideration in the event of the use of pesticides. The district must provide personal notification to these well in advance of any routinely scheduled pesticide use, and should make an effort to address their concerns and special needs relative to such pesticide applications.
Prior to applications, classroom announcements should be made reminding students and staff of indoor or landscape pesticide applications, with warnings to avoid posted and flagged areas until signs are removed. In order to inform visitors, service staff, and other building occupants, signs should be posted on main school doors and near sites of planned applications prior to pesticide use, and remain in place until the reentry interval has elapsed. Outdoor application areas should posted in accord with your local laws. This may require:
- Markers must be affixed within or along the perimeter of the area where pesticides will be applied
- Markers must be clearly visible to persons immediately outside the perimeter of the area to be treated and be easily read. (Example: at least twelve inches above the ground and at least four inches by five inches in size.)
- Markers must be in place on the day during which the pesticide is being applied, and shall instruct persons not to enter the treated area and not to remove the signs for a period of at least twenty-four hours. The instructions must be printed boldly in letters at least three-eighths of an inch in height.
Samples of Pesticide Application Notifications
- Notice for School Staff of a Pesticide Application to a School Building or on School Grounds (PDF) from Maryland Department of Agriculture
- Sample Notice for Parents, Guardians, and Staff of an Emergency Pesticide Application (PDF) from Maryland Department of Agriculture