Partnering with Health Professionals to Reduce Pesticide Exposure - November 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Urban populations include large numbers of individuals at-risk of chronic pest infestations as well as over and misuse of pesticides and pesticide poisonings. A Penn State collaborative in Philadelphia is joining forces with health education, advocacy and outreach networks to create a model partnership for conveying pesticide safety messages to urban at-risk populations.
The Philadelphia School and Community IPM Partnership (PSCIP) was formed six years ago to implement community-based solutions to manage pests effectively and safely. IPM, or integrated pest management, is a safe, effective, and scientific approach to managing pests. IPM uses knowledge of pests’ habits and needs to help implement pest prevention tactics as a first line of defense. Pesticides are used as a last resort, and only pesticide products that pose the least-toxic, least risk of exposure to residents are chosen.
At-risk urban populations include children under five years old, asthmatics of all ages, the elderly and immuno-compromised. According to PSCIP Coordinator Michelle Niedermeier, there are virtually no coordinated mechanisms in place for reaching these diverse populations with messages of safer, more effective pest control practices or proper pesticide choices, uses, storage and disposal.
The new, one-year project, funded by a grant from the EPA’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program, provides health professionals with educator training and client information specific to pest and pesticide issues. “We’re reaching out to these health educators to develop train-the-trainer education modules and client outreach protocols for pesticide safety and basic IPM literacy,” Niedermeier explains.
The training modules focus on pests and pesticide incidences documented by the Poison Control Center data on actual poisonings of children under five in Philadelphia. “The bulk of these poisonings are insecticides used against roaches, fleas, bedbugs, and ants and misuses of rodenticides in pellet form, mothballs and other off-label or illegal behavior,” Niedermeier explains. “Providing training and materials to these well-established health networks will assure sustainability of the IPM and pesticide safety messages in inner-city Philadelphia and will reach many at-risk families each year. This approach will serve as a model to other IPM and pesticide educators wishing to serve city populations in the region and nation.”
PSCIP also works with local universities to provide internships opportunities and mentors nursing students from Villanova University’s Community Health Nursing and Health Promotion course by involving them in public health research surveying low-income. Additionally, PSCIP partnered with Temple University to plan the Second Annual Temple University Surroundcare Health Fair earlier in the year. The health fair featured physicians, nurses, and other health practitioners from Temple’s Health Science campus as well as representatives from several environmental health agencies.
In conjunction with the health fair, PSCIP worked with teachers and students at Tanner Duckery Elementary School in Philadelphia to help them make a safe all-purpose cleaner. The students then distributed the cleaner at the health fair.For more information on PSCIP, including meeting minutes, partners in the initiative, and current and future activities, visit Web site http://www.pscip.org/. Or, you may contact Michelle Niedermeier at the Penn State Philadelphia Outreach Center, phone (215) 471-2200, ext. 109, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center fosters the development and adoption of IPM, a science-based approach to managing pests in ways that generate economic, environmental, and human health benefits. NE IPMC works in partnership with stakeholders from agricultural, urban, and rural settings to identify and address regional priorities for research, education, and outreach. For more information, visit http://NortheastIPM.org.