Massachusetts urges parents to ask schools about integrated pest management plans

As the new school year approaches, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) is urging parents to ask whether their child’s school or daycare facility it has a current School Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan for safe pesticide use. “At home and in the classroom, parents are the first line of defense in protecting their children against pesticide exposure,” said DAR Commissioner Scott Soares. “Maintaining a school or day care IPM plan is not only required by law, but it is also crucial to insure children’s safety.”

According to DAR’s Division of Crop and Pest Services, the vast majority of schools and daycare facilities have filed IPM plans with DAR, but roughly 200 schools and 400 day care facilities are not in compliance with the state IPM law.  DAR periodically notifies schools without plans about the requirements throughout the year. Day care facilities can lose their operating licenses if they do not comply and, this year, schools that do not file an IPM plan within 90 days face a $1,000 fine. In addition, DAR collaborates with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Early Education and Care to engage school principals and superintendents as well as day care providers in the IMP plan process. 

IPM is a systematic strategy for managing pests through prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression. If chemical pesticides are necessary, facilities are required to use materials and methods that are safe for the public and reduce environmental risk. DAR recommends that parents ask their child’s school or daycare facility if they have a current IPM plan on file.

There are different pesticide use restrictions for indoor and outdoor school or daycare property Any pesticide product classified as known, likely, or probable human carcinogen as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may not be used on outdoor facilities. In addition any pesticide product that contains inert ingredients of toxicological concern, according to the EPA, is also prohibited. Click here for a list of prohibited outdoor products.

The only materials permitted for indoor use are:

  • Anti-microbial pesticides, like bleach odenticide, insecticide bait, or ready-to-use insecticidal, which must be in tamper resistant bait stations or inaccessible areas
  • Termiticides may only be used when there is an active infestation
  • Lower risk products, such as garlic or mint oil

In 2000, Massachusetts passed legislation to prevent unnecessary exposure of children to chemical pesticides, promote safer alternatives to pesticides, ensure that clear and accurate notification concerning the use of pesticides in schools and day care centers is available to parents, and to promote the use of integrated pest management techniques to reduce schools’ reliance on chemical pesticides.  The law requires that schools, day care centers and school-age child care programs adopt and implement IPM plans that cover both indoor and outdoor areas. Plans must be filed with DAR and at least one copy must be kept on school premises and made available to the public upon request.

School and daycare staff can visit DAR’s school IPM website for information about the Children’s & Families Protection Act. DAR provides resources, which schools and daycare programs can use to create, edit, and submit IPM Plans online. The website also guides users through the step-by-step process for submitting IPM Plans.  To find out if a school or day care facility has filed a school IPM plan, or for more information about the notification requirements and other restrictions on pesticide applications, visit: 

The Department of Agricultural Resources’ Division of Crop and Pest Services is responsible for the regulation of the agricultural industry and pesticide application services in Massachusetts through the diligent inspection, examination, licensing, registration, quarantine, and enforcement of laws, regulations and orders.

The DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance – the DAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the Commonwealth’s agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production.

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