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Integrated pest management for indoor use

Evidence Rating

Scientifically Supported

Health Factors

Integrated pest management (IPM) includes a broad range of methods to control pests that also minimize potential hazards to people, property, and the environment. IPM employs a four-tiered approach – setting action thresholds, identifying and monitoring pests, preventing pests from becoming a threat (e.g., sealing cracks and crevices), and pest control as needed. IPM pest control begins with the least risky approaches (e.g., mechanical controls such as trapping) and moves to targeted pesticide use only if other measures are not successful. Often used in agriculture, IPM can also be used in indoor settings such as homes, schools, workplaces, or other environments that may be affected by mice, roaches, or other pests (US EPA-IPM, UC Ag-IPM). 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced pesticide exposure

  • Improved health outcomes

  • Improved housing conditions

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that using integrated pest management (IPM) in indoor settings reduces pest and pesticide exposure (Krieger 2010, , , Brenner 2003). IPM has also been shown to improve health outcomes, housing conditions, and indoor environments, and to reduce exposure to cockroach allergens (, Nalyanya 2014, Krieger 2010), especially when implemented as part of a multi-component home-based environmental intervention ().

IPM techniques have been shown to reduce the number of asthma symptom days (, ) and school days missed by children living in low income, urban areas. These techniques have also been shown to reduce mouse and rat allergen exposure, which may exacerbate asthma symptoms (). Insecticidal bait, an inexpensive type of IPM, can reduce the number of cockroaches and reduce the number of asthma symptom days for children in low income areas (). IPM has also been shown to reduce exposure to cockroach allergens in schools (Nalyanya 2014) and child care centers (); schools in states with designated IPM funding are more likely to use IPM than schools without such funding ().

By improving housing conditions (e.g., sealing cracks, repairing deteriorating walls or window frames, and improving cleaning habits), IPM makes homes less appealing and accessible to pests and reduces pesticide use and related neurological effects (). Acute pesticide poisoning causes adverse health effects such as seizures, rashes, and gastrointestinal illness. Chronic pesticide exposure also increases risks to human health, with potential neurologic, reproductive, and genotoxic effects, as well as increases in cancer risk. Health risks are highest for vulnerable populations, especially children (Sanborn 2007); exposure to indoor pesticides contributes to an increased risk of childhood leukemia and childhood lymphomas ().

Pesticides are often used in large quantities in low income, urban areas (Brenner 2003); IPM strategies used in these areas can reduce disparities, especially for children, in exposure to pests, asthma morbidity (), pesticide exposure, and related health risks (Brenner 2003).

Individually tailored IPM plans can be cost-effective, with costs that are often equal to or less than traditional chemical pest control (Brenner 2003). IPM methods can reduce health care utilization and spending (, ).

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

IPM is in use in single and multi-family homes, schools, childcare facilities, and workplaces across the country. It has been mandated on federal property since 1996 (US GSA-IPM). As of 2017, 33 states have IPM-related laws for schools and over 400 school districts have IPM policies or programs (Beyond Pesticides).

The US General Services Agency (GSA) is the primary agency responsible for distributing information about structural IPM (US GSA-IPM). The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD) also provides information about IPM for safe pest control in homes across the country (US HUD-IPM). 

For several years, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offered grants to fund projects that promote IPM adoption in schools (US EPA-School IPM grants).

Implementation Resources

US EPA-IPM in buildings - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Integrated pest management (IMP) in buildings. EPA 731-K-11-001;2011.

US EPA-IPM in schools - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Managing pests in schools: About integrated pest management (IPM) in schools, and tools, tips, and resources to implement IPM.

CDC-IPM manual 2006 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Integrated pest management: Conducting urban rodent surveys. Atlanta;2006.

CDC EHS-IPM - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Environmental Health Services (EHS). Vector control: Integrated pest management (IPM).

AHA-IPM - American Hospital Association (AHA). Sustainability roadmap for hospitals: Implement integrated pest management (IPM) practices in your facility.

Maley 2014 - Maley M, Taisey A, Koplinka-Loehr C. Integrated pest management (IPM): A guide for affordable housing. Stop Pests in Housing, Northeastern IPM Center. 2014.

NCHH-IPM - National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). Integrated pest management (IPM).

School IPM toolbox - National School IPM Information Source. National school integrated pest management (IPM) toolbox. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Sandel 2010* - Sandel M, Baeder A, Bradman A, et al. Housing interventions and control of health-related chemical agents: A review of the evidence. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. 2010;16(5 Suppl):S24-33.

Krieger 2010 - Krieger J, Jacobs DE, Ashley PJ, et al. Housing interventions and control of asthma-related indoor biologic agents: A review of the evidence. National Institutes of Health Public Access (NIH). 2014;16(5):1-14.

Jacobs 2010* - Jacobs DE, Brown MJ, Baeder A, et al. A systematic review of housing interventions and health: Introduction, methods, and summary findings. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (JPHMP). 2010;16(5):S5-10.

Brenner 2003 - Brenner BL, Markowitz S, Rivera M, et al. Integrated pest management in an urban community: A successful partnership for prevention. Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). 2003;111(13):1649-1653.

Crocker 2011* - Crocker DD, Kinyota S, Dumitru GG, et al. Effectiveness of home-based, multi-trigger, multicomponent interventions with an environmental focus for reducing asthma morbidity: A community guide systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM). 2011;41(2S1):S5-32.

Sanborn 2007 - Sanborn M, Kerr KJ, Sanin LH, Cole DC, Bassil KL, Vakil C. Non-cancer health effects of pesticides. Canadian Family Physician (CFP). 2007;53:1712–1720.

Rabito 2017* - Rabito FA, Carlson JC, He H, Werthmann D, Schal C. A single intervention for cockroach control reduces cockroach exposure and asthma morbidity in children. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2017:1-6.

Jones 2015a* - Jones SE, Doroski B, Glick S. Association between state assistance on the topic of indoor air quality and school district-level policies that promote indoor air quality in schools. The Journal of School Nursing. 2015;31(6):422-429.

Nalyanya 2014 - Nalyanya G, Gore JC, Linker HM, Schal C. German cockroach allergen levels in North Carolina schools: Comparison of integrated pest management and conventional cockroach control. Journal of Medical Entomology. 2009;46(3):420-427.

Kalmar 2014* - Kalmar E, Ivey SL, Bradman A, Leonard V, Alkon A. Implementing an integrated pest management (IPM) program in child care centers: A qualitative study. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 2014;29(3):245-254.

Chen 2015a* - Chen M, Chang C-H, Tao L, Lu C. Residential exposure to pesticide during childhood and childhood cancers: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2015;136(4):719-729.

Fabian 2014* - Fabian MP, Adamkiewicz G, Stout NK, Sandel M, Levy JI. A simulation model of building intervention impacts on indoor environmental quality, pediatric asthma, and costs. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2014;133(1):77-84.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

US GSA-IPM - US General Services Administration (US GSA). Integrated pest management (IPM).

US HUD-IPM - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). Safe pest control. Integrated pest management (IPM).

US EPA-School IPM grants - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). School integrated pest management (IPM) grants.

Beyond Pesticides - Beyond Pesticides. State and local school pesticide policies.

Date Last Updated

Jul 18, 2017