Implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Practices in Your Facility
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Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a method of utilizing multiple pest control strategies to eliminate or greatly reduce pests. IPM strategies decrease the use of hazardous pesticide products — both inside and outside a healthcare facility — through nontoxic methods, such as improved sanitation and structural maintenance, mechanical and biological controls, and cultural practices.
Project Talking Points
Pesticides are toxic substances designed to kill or repel pests. However, in addition to being harmful to pests, they can cause acute symptoms in humans, including nausea, headaches, rashes, and dizziness. Many are also linked to chronic diseases and conditions such as cancer, birth defects, neurological and reproductive disorders, and to the development of chemical sensitivities.
People often come to healthcare facilities with compromised immune, neurological, and respiratory systems that put them at increased risk of suffering harmful effects from pesticide exposure. The elderly, pregnant women, chemically sensitive individuals, infants, and children are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides.
IPM prevents pest problems by reducing or eliminating sources of pest food, water, and shelter; blocking pest entry into buildings; and maintaining healthy soil and plants. Chemical pesticides are used only as a last resort, and preference is given to the least toxic pesticide that will accomplish the job. On the rare occasion that a toxic pesticide is used, ample notification is given to staff, patients, and the public.
Relying on a combination of common-sense practices, IPM is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that focuses on preventing and managing pest problems.
Triple Bottom Line Benefits
Cost Savings – Studies have shown that long-term costs of IPM may be less than a conventional pest control program that relies solely on the use of pesticides. While long-term labor costs for IPM may in some cases be higher than those for conventional pesticide treatments, labor costs may be offset by reduced expenditures for materials. Initial one-time investments (outlined below) in repair and maintenance will reduce overall costs of pest control operation over the long term. Overall, there are also the healthcare cost savings that result from not further compromising staff (and patient) immune systems.
Examples of one-time expenses that may result in future budgetary savings include:
- Improving waste management by moving trash or garbage containers away from facilities to reduce the opportunity for pest invasion. This cost is a one-time expense that will result in fewer pest problems and reduce the need for other pest control procedures.
- Installing physical barriers such as air curtains over the outside entrances to kitchens to reduce flying insect problems. This is also a one-time cost and results in fewer flying insect problems and a savings in years to come.
- Stepping up structural maintenance to correct situations such as leaky pipes. This effort reduces future maintenance problems, prevents pest problems, and saves money in the long term.
- Training and/or certifying staff in IPM. The amount of information necessary to implement IPM is greater than that required for conventional pest control but result in fewer pests to control in the long-term.
- Re-landscaping the area adjacent to buildings to discourage pests.
Environmental benefits include:
- Reduction of environmental risk of air and ground water contamination.
- Reduction of environmental risk associated with pest management by encouraging the adoption of more ecologically benign control tactics.
- Protection of at-risk ecosystems and non-target species through reduced impact of pest management activities and fewer toxins being released into the environment.
- Promotion of sustainable bio-based pest management alternatives.
Health and Safety Benefits (satisfaction and quality) – IPM reduces patient, visitor, and employee exposure to toxicity and allays public concern about pest- and pesticide-related practices. There are growing numbers of children and adults throughout the nation suffering from allergies and asthma. Rodents, cockroaches, and dust mites are often present in buildings and can cause, or inflame, serious allergic reactions and asthma attacks, not to mention the perception of
"uncleanliness" generated by presence of "pests". IPM strategies can address these health concerns.
An adaptable MS Word document of an IPM contract developed by the U.S. General Services Agency can be found here.
Model contract language from the Enterprise Resource Database.
A sample contract for schools that can be easily adapted to your healthcare facility.
Successful IPM programs use the same four-tiered implementation approach (below).
1. Identify Pest and Monitor Progress
Correct pest identification is required to determine the best preventative measures and reduce the unnecessary use of pesticides. Additionally, correct identification will prevent the elimination of beneficial organisms. When monitoring for pests:
- Maintain records for each building detailing monitor techniques, location, and inspection schedule.
- Record monitoring results and inspection findings, including recommendations.
Many monitoring techniques are available and often vary according to the pest. Successful IPM programs routinely monitor pest populations, pest vulnerable areas, and the efficacy of prevention and control methods. IPM plans should be updated in response to monitoring results.
2. Set Action Thresholds
An action threshold is the pest population level at which the pest’s presence is a nuisance, health hazard, or economic threat. Setting an action threshold is critical to guiding pest control decisions. A defined threshold will focus the size, scope, and intensity of an IPM plan.
IPM focuses on prevention by removing conditions that attract pests, such as food, water, and shelter. Preventative actions include:
- Reducing clutter
- Sealing areas where pests enter the building (weatherization)
- Removing trash and overgrown vegetation
- Maintaining clean dining and food storage areas
- Installing pest barriers
- Removing standing water
- Educating building occupants on IPM
Pest control is required if action thresholds are exceeded. IPM programs use the most effective, lowest risk options considering the risks to the applicator, building occupants, and environment. Control methods include:
- Pest trapping
- Heat/cold treatment
- Physical removal
- Pesticide application
Documenting pest control actions is critical in evaluating success and should include:
- An on-site record of each pest control service, including all pesticide applications, in a searchable, organized system.
- Evidence that non-chemical control methods were considered and implemented.
- Recommendations for preventing future pest problems.
Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies
A 1970s Executive Order required all federal buildings/institutions to use IPM. Many states and counties followed suit, requiring government organizations to use IPM. Recently, however, some states such as New York and Louisiana have introduced legislation requiring hospitals to use IPM.
Executive Order 13423 Technical Guidance for Implementing the 5 Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings – this technical guidance has been developed by the Interagency Sustainability Working Group (ISWG). The guidance clarifies requirements and related mandates, contains additional recommendations and considerations, and resources for implementation, including model contract and specification language. The ISWG will review the Guiding Principles and Technical Guidance periodically for updates and to consider adopting additional principles or goals addressing issues such as conservation plantings, integrated pest management, deconstruction, and siting.
Cross References: GGHC
GGHC Operations v2.2 2008 Revision, Environmental Services, Credit 3, Indoor Integrated Pest Management, 1 Point.
If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
Shortcuts to Sustainable Pest Management, from Orkin
Don’t Get ‘Bugged’: Prevent Pests with IPM; article on IPM from Healthcare Purchasing News.
Diagnosing the environmental sensitivity and sustainability of pest management practices, from Healthcare Building Ideas.
EPA guide, Integrated Pest Management in Buildings.
Association for the Healthcare Environment recommended practice on IPM.
IPM Institute of North America, Model IPM Policy. This MS Word document states your organization's commitment to IPM.
EPA’s best practices for safer pesticide handling and storage.
Read an article from the Baltimore Examiner on pesticides in healthcare.
Healthy Hospitals report: Control Pests without Pesticides.
Chemicals, Supply Chain
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- SUPPLY CHAIN
- Environmental Health and Safety
- Toxics Reduction
- Engineering/Facilities Management
- Environmental Services
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