Integrated pest management for indoor use

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 housing conditions

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved health outcomes

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that using integrated pest management (IPM) in indoor settings reduces pest and pesticide exposure (Krieger 2010, Jacobs 2010*, Sandel 2010*, Sever 2007, Brenner 2003). IPM has also been shown to improve housing conditions and indoor environments, and to reduce exposure to cockroach allergens (Rabito 2017*, Nalyanya 2014, Krieger 2010), especially when implemented as part of a multi-component home-based environmental intervention (Crocker 2011*).

IPM techniques have been shown to reduce mouse and rat allergen exposure, which may exacerbate asthma symptoms (Crocker 2011*). Insecticidal bait, an inexpensive component of IPM, can reduce the number of cockroaches, cockroach allergens (Rabito 2017*, Sever 2007), and the number of asthma symptom days and school days missed for children in low income homes (Rabito 2017*, Crocker 2011*). IPM has also been shown to reduce exposure to cockroach allergens in schools (Nalyanya 2014) and child care centers (Kalmar 2014*); schools in states with designated IPM funding are more likely to use IPM than schools without such funding (Jones 2015a*). A California-based study suggests that IPM education and application can reduce the use of pesticides and reduce pests in home-based child care settings (Stephens 2017). A New Jersey-based study also indicates that IPM can reduce exposure to cockroaches and pesticides in apartments (Zha 2018*).

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 (Sandel 2010*). 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 (Chen 2015a*).

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 and pesticides (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 (Rabito 2017*, Fabian 2014*).

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). 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 issues (US EPA-Air quality app).

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 - US Environmental Protection Agency (US 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 - 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.

US EPA-IPM in buildings - US Environmental Protection Agency (US 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.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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

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.

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

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