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Public Housing Environmental & Conservation Clearinghouse

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Common pests can cause serious health problems. Pests such as bed bugs, cockroaches and rodents as well as the chemicals used to control them can affect allergies and asthma along with more serious health risks.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of current practices, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

picture of bedFundamental of IPM

IPM efforts must involve PHA staff, contractors, residents, and include:

  1. Communicating the PHA’s IPM policies and procedures to be provided in the appropriate format to meet the needs of all residents including persons with limited English proficiency and in formats that may be needed for persons who are visually or hearing impaired.  This applies to administrative staff, maintenance personnel, and contractors as well.
  2. Identifying the environmental conditions that lead to pests and educating residents.  
  3. Identifying pests and immediately reporting the presence of pests. 
  4. Establishing an ongoing monitoring and record keeping system for regular sampling and assessment of pests, surveillance techniques, and remedial actions taken, include establishing the assessment criteria for program effectiveness.  This is a highly effective preventative measure that can help reduce the possibility of a pest infestation outbreak.
  5. Determining, with the involvement of residents, the pest population levels – by species – that will be tolerated, and setting thresholds at which pest populations warrant action.
  6. Improving waste management and pest management methods.
  7. Selecting the appropriate pesticides and insecticides to use.  Some residents may suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or other Environmental Illnesses. 
  8. Ongoing efforts to monitor and maintain structures and grounds (e.g., sealing cracks, eliminating moisture intrusion/accumulation) and adding physical barriers to pest entry and movement.
  9. Developing an outreach/educational program to ensure that leases reflect residents’ responsibilities for:  (1) proper housekeeping, which includes sanitation upkeep and the reduction of clutter, trash removal and storage, (2) immediately reporting the presence of pests, leaks, and mold, (3) cooperating with PHA specific IPM requirements such as obtaining permission of PHA management before purchasing or applying any pesticides, and (4) avoiding introduction of bed bugs and other pests into buildings on used mattresses and other recycled furniture. See “Preventing and Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Safely,” New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene  http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/vector/bed-bug-guide.pdf
  10. Check with local health department to determine if your state has laws for re-used furnishings. 
  11. The judicious use of pesticides when necessary, with preference for products that, while producing the desired level of effectiveness, pose the least harm to human health and the environment.  Residents should notify PHA management before pesticides are applied.  
  12. Providing and posting “Pesticide Use Notification” signs or other warnings.

IPM training is available at: http://www.stoppests.org/.

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