Integrated pest management for indoor use

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  
Date last updated

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 pests1, 2.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Reduced pesticide exposure

  • Improved housing conditions

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Improved health outcomes

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is strong evidence that using integrated pest management (IPM) in indoor settings reduces pest and pesticide exposure3, 4, 5, 6, 7. IPM has also been shown to improve housing conditions and indoor environments, and to reduce exposure to cockroach allergens3, 8, 9, especially when implemented as part of a multi-component home-based environmental intervention10.

IPM techniques have been shown to reduce mouse and rat allergen exposure, which may exacerbate asthma symptoms10. Insecticidal bait, an inexpensive component of IPM, can reduce the number of cockroaches, cockroach allergens6, 8, and the number of asthma symptom days and school days missed for children in low income homes8, 10. IPM has also been shown to reduce exposure to cockroach allergens in schools9 and child care centers11; schools in states with designated IPM funding are more likely to use IPM than schools without such funding12. A California-based study suggests that IPM education and application can reduce the use of pesticides and reduce pests in home-based child care settings13. A New Jersey-based study also indicates that IPM can reduce exposure to cockroaches and pesticides in apartments14.

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 use5. 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 children15; exposure to indoor pesticides contributes to an increased risk of childhood leukemia and childhood lymphomas16.

Pesticides are often used in large quantities in low income, urban areas7; IPM strategies used in these areas can reduce disparities, especially for children, in exposure to pests and pesticides7.

Individually tailored IPM plans can be cost-effective, with costs that are often equal to or less than traditional chemical pest control7. IPM methods can reduce health care utilization and spending8, 17.

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated 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 199618. As of 2017, 33 states have IPM-related laws for schools and over 400 school districts have IPM policies or programs19.

The U.S. General Services Agency (GSA) is the primary agency responsible for distributing information about structural IPM18. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (U.S. HUD) also provides information about IPM for safe pest control in homes across the country20.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides guidance and resources for schools on IPM adoption21. The EPA’s School Indoor Air Quality Assessment Mobile App offers guidance on how to implement IPM, along with information on other building-related environmental health issues22.

Implementation Resources

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

US EPA-Air quality app - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). School IAQ assessment mobile app.

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).

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

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

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.


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1 US EPA-IPM - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Integrated pest management (IPM) principles.

2 UC Ag-IPM - University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources (UC Ag). Statewide integrated pest management program: What is integrated pest management (IPM)?

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 Sever 2007 - Sever ML, Arbes SJ, Gore JC, et al. Cockroach allergen reduction by cockroach control alone in low-income urban homes: A randomized control trial. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2007;120(4):849-855.

7 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.

8 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.

9 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.

10 CG-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.

11 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.

12 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.

13 Stephens 2017 - Stephens M, Hazard K, Moser D, et al. An integrated pest management intervention improves knowledge, pest control, and practices in family child care homes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2017;14(11):1299.

14 Zha 2018 - Zha C, Wang C, Buckley B, et al. Pest prevalence and evaluation of community-wide integrated pest management for reducing cockroach infestations and indoor insecticide residues. Journal of Economic Entomology. 2018;111(2):795-802.

15 Sanborn 2007 - Sanborn M, Kerr KJ, Sanin LH, et al. Non-cancer health effects of pesticides. Canadian Family Physician. 2007;53:1712-1720.

16 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.

17 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.

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

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

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

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

22 US EPA-Air quality app - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). School IAQ assessment mobile app.