By Leonard Douglen
Recently a weekly newspaper serving the Princeton area published an article, “Playing without Pesticides” in which it reported on two “Pesticide Free” signs posted near two elementary school yards of Mansfield, “signifying that the school has taken a natural approach to managing pests and cleaning.”
The article also took note of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that schools in New Jersey are required to have. As the Executive Director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association, I know something of this IPM program because the Association was instrumental in assisting the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to write it and because the Association provides our members with the scientific and technical information necessary to implement it.
Posting signs saying that a school area is “Pesticide Free” teaches children that pesticides are “bad” and should not be used. Demonizing pesticides does nothing to truly educate children to their benefits in terms of protecting their health and the protection of both public and private property that they provide daily.
By contrast, every year, several million African children die needlessly from Malaria because their communities lack access to DDT for the control and eradication the mosquito population.
When one considers the many insect pests that can attack children, from ticks that can cause Lyme disease to mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Fever, cockroaches that can spread a variety of diseases, as well as stinging insects, the need for professional pest control becomes self-evident. Inside and outside of every school, there is always the potential for an infestation.
Professional pest control service providers are required by law to be fully licensed and certified by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and must demonstrate both knowledge of proper practices, particularly as regards the use of pesticides, as well as having attended required annual training sessions.
The IPM practices pioneered by the pest control industry protect schools, working to achieve as pest-free an environment as modern pest control practices can ensure. That includes the careful, proper and intelligent use of pesticides.
The children attending Mansfield’s schools are far better protected precisely because of the work of pest control professionals than if they were left to Nature’s capacity to produce millions of insect and rodent pests every year.
Editor’s Note: The New Jersey Pest Management Association was founded in 1941 and recently conducted its 61st annual Clinic, a day filled with seminars on a variety of pest related problems. It maintains a website at www.njpestcontrol.com.
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