Improving Environmental Health in Schools Interview
IPM and environmental health researchers and scientists recently released a journal article on improving environmental health in schools. Hear from a few of the authors below.
Is there a way to motivate schools to improve their environmental health in addition to new regulations?
Author Tim Stock, director of the Oregon State University School IPM program, suggests showcasing studies focused on the environmental health benefits of IPM and serious health consequences that may occur due to poor practices. Pest issues and poor indoor air quality correlate to absenteeism, which results in lower academic achievement. Tim further encourages people to update school policies and to widely share this publication.
Extension program specialist at Texas A&M University, Janet Hurley, recommends tying IPM to student health and absentee numbers because of the direct correlation between the two. Unclean areas that contain dust and dander can attract many pests. You will improve the quality of life for the two-legged if you can keep the six, eight and four-legged critters out. Janet suggests stressing exclusion and to “Close those doors and windows and seal them up.”
Marc Lame, a clinical professor at Indiana University, suggests school advisors concentrate on the innovation-decision process, a five-step process designed to diffuse innovation and increase innovation adoption. Marc believes that we can increase Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by increasing recognition of the IEM/IPM achievements of school districts with meaningful plaques that would stimulate good media coverage.
The paper mentions a few school IPM policies and programs that target resources and training efforts to underserved communities. What approaches should environmental health advocates take to engage these underserved schools that need IPM the most?
Leah McSherry, author and a specialist at the IPM Institute, states environmental health advocates will have more success if they work together with partner organizations and receive commitments from the decision makers of the schools including the superintendent, vendor department and staff managers. McSherry recommends engaging these stakeholders through hands-on training such as Pest Defense.
Author Janet Hurley emphasizes promoting the use of IPM and how it protects the environment. For example, one morning news show asked her organization about crickets. As shown in this news clip, Hurley conveyed IPM, but didn’t say the 3 letters: https://cbsn.ws/3DGMyu0. Hurley used this as an opportunity to discuss the importance of exclusion by discussing credit cards and door sweeps with the reporter. This is a method she often uses with schools.
Marc Lame encourages stakeholders to think like a policy entrepreneur. Lame suggests stakeholders put together a team of state environmental/health folks with EPA regional folks. He believes the EPA’s new Office of Environmental Justice should have a lot of interest in these collaborative efforts.