Disclaimer: The answers to these questions are for guidance and information. If you need further clarification contact your school solicitor or the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at (717) 772-5214 for pesticide information and (717) 772-5204 for IPM Plan information.
1. Do the regulations apply to public school administration buildings?
Yes, the workers in the building must be notified 72 hours prior to any pesticide applications, and posting must be done 72 hours prior to and 48 hours after applications. Notification of parents and guardians only needs made for applications in buildings in which their students attend.
2. Our athletic fields are not fenced in. Where do the pest control signs need to be posted?
The PDA recommends posting the signs at common entry points as determined by the school IPM coordinator. A notice of placement of signs could be posted on the staff bulletin board and sent to parents and guardians so they know where to look for the pest control signs.
3. One of our athletic fields is several miles away from any of our school buildings. Does a notice need placed in each school building prior to pesticide applications on that field?
No, only workers in buildings at that location need notification. What ever method your district uses for notification (by posting in the buildings, emails, announcements) needs to be followed. The legislation also requires that a pest control sign be placed at the common entry point to that field, and the 7-hour re-entry time applies.
4. We only treat the athletic fields in the summer. Is it necessary to notify the parents and guardians at that time?
No, only if students are using the fields for normal academic instruction or organized extracurricular activities. But workers in the schools at the locations need to be notified and the fields must have the treatment signs posted at common entry points. The 7-hour re-entry time also applies.
5. What are the requirements for background checks on pest management professionals servicing a public school in Pennsylvania?
The IPM legislation does not address this, but the district may require a criminal background check (Act 34 clearance), a child abuse background check (Act 151 clearance), and, if from out of state, an FBI fingerprint card.
6. Baits and gels are pesticides. Do parents and guardians need to be notified if either is used?
No, baits and gels are exempt from the notification. However, the certified pesticide applicator is required to notify any individuals on the PDA Hypersensitivity Registry and if they are placed in a common access area, existing regulations require no students may be in the area for seven hours.
7. We use biocides in the air conditioning units on our buildings. Do the notification and posting requirements apply to their use?
Biocides, used as antimicrobials in areas (air filtration systems, etc.) in which students do not have access, are exempt from notification.
No, Category 18 is only for research and education. To apply pesticides in schools and on school grounds requires Category 23 (Parks and Schools) or other specific categories (structural, etc.).
9. What is meant by common access area?
Updated! An "area of common access" in Act 36 is referred to as to where a pest control sign must be posted, such as the main entrance, lobby or main bulletin board area. "Common access area" is not a term used in Act 36, but is defined in the Title 7 Chapter 128. 2 as "The areas within a school building where students/attendees normally congregate, assemble or frequent during normal academic instruction or extracurricular activities. The term does not include areas such as kitchens, boiler rooms, utility/maintenance rooms and areas which are physically blocked or restricted from student/attendee access."
10. What regulations affect containerized bait placement?
Containerized baits are exempt from the notification and posting requirements, but are not exempt from the Pesticide Control Act of 1973; they cannot be placed in a common access area within seven hours of when students may be in that area.
11. When does the legislation take effect?
14. What schools are exempt from the IPM legislation?
The legislation specifically defines school as "a school district, an intermediate unit or an area vocational-technical school or any of these entities acting jointly." All other schools are exempt from the legislation.
15. Will the state check the IPM Plan as part of a normal audit?
School audits done by the Bureau of School Audits, Department of Auditor General, concentrate on areas that generate income, so it is unlikely that the IPM Plan will be included in any state audits.
16. If soapy water or WD-40 is used to spray wasp nests, is notification and posting required?
These are not pesticides and are not covered by the legislation. However many home remedies may contain materials that are actually more toxic than commercially prepared pesticides that have been tested for their safety and effectiveness. The department suggests checking with the school solicitor concerning liability before using any home remedies for pests.
17. What is the Hypersensitivity Registry and how can I get a copy for my district?
This is a listing of people mandated by the Pesticide Control Act of 1973 and maintained by the PDA who have had their hypersensitivity to pesticides verified by a physician and have asked to be included in the registry. People in the registry must be notified by the certified applicator of any pesticide applications within 500 feet of their primary residence or secondary location. Copies of the registry are provided to each licensed commercial and public pesticide application business.
18. If we follow all the guidelines of the Hypersensitivity Registry and our school's notification list, can the people notified prevent the school from using the pesticides?
No, parents and guardians can keep the student home at the time of application, but they cannot stop you from using the pesticide.
19. A teacher uses a can of "Raid" to eliminate some ants in the corner of his/her classroom. Do the notification and posting requirements apply in this case?
First, the teacher would be in violation of the Pesticide Control Act of 1973 since only certified applicators may apply pesticides. Second, the room and any adjoining rooms sharing a common ventilation system must be evacuated and closed off for 7 hours. Third, because a pesticide was applied in a school by someone other than a certified pesticide applicator, the district could be penalized anywhere from a warning letter to a fine of up to $10,000 depending on the situation. Finally, the room must now have a pest control sign posted for the next 48 hours, and the school must notify by phone all persons that requested such notification.
20. Our teachers take OFF (insect repellent) on field trips to spray on students to repel insects and ticks. Is OFF considered a pesticide?
OFF makes pesticide claims on its label so it is a pesticide by definition. To apply pesticides an applicator's certificate is required. However, since OFF is generally available to the public, the department suggests requiring parental permission before OFF is used, and then let the students apply a small amount to their hands and rub it on themselves, rather than the teacher doing it for them.
21. Does an IU office facility without school students housed within our buildings come under the authority of Acts 35 and 36?
Yes, the legislation specifically includes Intermediate Units in the definition of school, so the IU needs to prepare an IPM Plan and in the event of pesticide applications is required to notify workers in the building and post notices 72 hours prior to applications.
22. What is required where an IU has Headstart, Early Intervention, etc. classrooms at buildings not on school grounds?
IU's are included in the legislation, therefore notification of pesticide applications is required for all parents and guardians requesting it for the students under the IU programs, as well as posting 72 hours prior to and 48 hours after pesticide applications. An IPM Plan is also needed for the location of the IU programs. The department suggests including the required IPM Plan as part of the contract when the site is acquired.
23. Who is responsible for IPM at educational trailers owned by an IU, housed at a non-public school facility?
The department suggests that an IPM Plan be included in the contract when the site is acquired. The IU is responsible to see that the students at the off-site facility is covered by an IPM Plan and that notification and posting is done according to the regulations.
24. Does our IPM plan need approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture?
No, but the PDA is willing to review it and offer suggestions at the school district's request.
25. Where can I get more information about developing an IPM plan?
If your district has not yet received a copy of the manual, IPM for Pennsylvania Schools: A How-to Manual, it is available on the web as a PDF file. Or, you can contact Cathy Thomas for a free copy.
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
2301 N Cameron St
Harrisburg PA 17110-9408
There is also a sample IPM plan on the web as a PDF file.
26. Where can I obtain a copy of the sample PSBA IPM Policy?
A copy is found in the manual, IPM for Pennsylvania Schools: A How-to Manual. A copy is also in the PSBA policy manual available in all member school districts.
27. Our school district owns land adjacent to the school grounds that is leased to a farmer. Do the notification and posting requirements apply if the farmer uses pesticides?
No, for the purposes of the act the land will be not considered school grounds as it is not under the direct control of the district and is not covered under Act 36.
28. Do the notification and posting requirements apply if a neighbor to district property uses pesticides?
No, the act only addresses applications made on school property.
29. Is notification and posting required for a Bt product used for mosquito treatment at a septic system on school grounds that is inaccessible to students?
Notification is not required for the parents or guardians of the students, but workers must be notified and the area posted in accordance with the regulations.
30. What happens if our school district refuses to comply with the new legislation?
Non-compliance of the school code (P.L.30, No. 14) is handled by the School Services Unit of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which will process the refusal to comply in their usual manner. If the non-compliance involves using a non-certified applicator to apply pesticides, the school would be in violation of the Pesticide Control Act of 1973 in which case the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture investigates. This could lead to penalties anywhere from a warning letter to a fine of up to $10,000 depending on the situation. If a student is harmed by an illegal application of a pesticide, the parent or guardian may also have grounds for a lawsuit.
31. Our buildings/athletic fields are used evenings and weekends by non-district sponsored events. Some participants are district students. How do the new regulations relate to this?
Acts 35 and 36 (and Section 128.106 in the pesticide regulations) deal only with district sponsored curricular and extra-curricular activities. Non-district sponsored activities are given no additional protections or notifications beyond those on the pesticide label. The fact that participants are staff or students of the school has no bearing. The key issue is if the district has sponsorship or control of the activity.
Example: A scheduled preseason summer practice of the high school football team would require notification and the 7-hour minimum re-entry time. (District sponsored activity). A community athletic association game/practice on the same field on the same day with some of the same participants would not, even though the district approved the use of the facilities. These community group activities are not district sponsored, therefore not covered by these Acts or regulations regarding notification or extended re-entry times.
32. Do private schools (or colleges, universities, day care centers, etc.) need to notify parents and guardians about pesticide applications and establish an IPM plan?
No, they are not included in the legislation. However, they are encouraged to develop IPM plans. A school as defined in the legislation is "a school district, an intermediate unit, an area vocational-technical school or any of these entities acting jointly".
33. Does every parent and guardian need a 72-hour notification for every pesticide application in the school or on school grounds?
The PDA suggests generating a list of parents and guardians at the beginning of each school year requesting such notification of individual applications. A sample copy of a letter explaining how parents and guardians can be placed on the list is downloadable: Sample Notification Forms. Those notifications may be sent by first class mail, email, or other suitable means.
34. In what form may workers and parents and guardians be notified?
Notification to workers in the building must be made 72 hours in advance of pesticide applications through bulletin board notices, emails, individual notices via interoffice mail, or in-house TV announcements. Parents and guardians may be notified through faxes, email, notices sent home with studenst, or mailed notices, etc.
35. Pesticides need to be used where students do not have access such as the furnace room. Since this is not a common access area, do the notification and posting requirements apply?
Parents and guardians do not need notification, but employees in the building need notification and the area needs to be posted.
36. Can we send a list of dates of scheduled application s to all parents, guardians and emplyees at the beginning of the year to meet the notification requirements?
37. Our Vocational Agriculture program includes training in the use of pesticides as part of the curriculum. If the students apply pesticides in the school greenhouse as part of the curriculum, to the notification and posting requirements apply?
Updated! The Pesticide Control Act of 1973 states that "A pesticide other than a disinfectant or sanitizer may not be applied in a common access area within a school building when students are expected to be in the common access area for normal academic instruction or organized extracurricular activities within 7 hours following the application." Therefore students may not legally apply pesticides even as part of the curriculum.
38.Does the legislation require notification and posting for swimming pool chemicals?
No, the legislation exempts these from notification and posting.
39. Our school district is near the state line. Can we contract with an out-of-state pest management professional (PMP) for pest control in our schools?
Yes, provided the pest management professional is certified in the appropriate categories and has registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture by remitting the required fees to be certified in Pennsylvania. The PMP is not required to be retested, he/she only needs to send the required amount for certification because of reciprocal agreements with each of our surrounding states.
40. If a utility company or the Department of Transportation or the county, etc. uses pesticides around meters or rights-of-way on the school property, does notification and posting apply?
Since the application is on school property, the notification and posting requirements would apply. The applicator (utility company, DOT, county, etc.) should provide the pest control information sheet and pest control signs to the district. Then the district would do the notification and posting in its usual way.
41. Who is the IPM Coordinator in the PDA?
Cathy Thomas is the State IPM Coordinator for the PDA, and can be contacted at:
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
2301 N Cameron St
Harrisburg PA 17110-9408
F (717) 783-3275
42. Where can I get a sample copy of a pest control information sheet?
43. Where can I get a sample copy of a pest control sign?
44. Who can apply pesticides in schools or around school grounds?
Only a certified applicator, a registered technician or a person under the control of the certified applicator who is physically present at the time may apply pesticides.
45. Who is a "Certified Applicator?"
A Certified applicator is a person who has been found competent to apply pesticides in the commonwealth by passing pesticide certification exams administered by the PDA.
46. Our school wants a staff member certified to make the pesticide applications. How much does it cost?
Applicator exam fees are $50 for the Core and $10 for each category. A 3-year certificate is $10, and the school will also need to register with the PDA for a pesticide business license ($35/year). In addition, the school must meet the requirements for comprehensive general liability insurance coverage for pesticide applications. For further information go to http://www.pested.psu.edu/ or contact your local Regional PDA office.
47. What category is appropriate for an applicator to be certified in to apply pesticides on district property?
Category 23, Park/School Pest Control, will cover all application on district property with the exception of swimming pools. Swimming Pools, Category 24, is needed for persons applying swimming pool chemicals.
48. Does an applicator certified in a category such as 7, 12, 15, or 16 also need category 23 to apply pesticides in schools?
No, category 23 is a category designed to cover all areas needed in pest management in schools (except the swimming pool). An applicator with category 7 can apply lawn and turf pesticides, but cannot apply pesticides in an area in which he is not certified such as spraying for cockroaches in a building.
49. What is a registered technician?
A registered technician is a person trained to do certain pesticide applications, meeting the competency requirements of the Pesticide Control Act of 1973, and acting under the supervision of a certified applicator who is responsible for the applications and is available when needed. The training is provided by the certified applicator with at least one year's experience as required by the Pesticide Control Act. A registered technician's certificate is $20.00/year.
50. What areas in a school could possibly be treated with a pesticide while school is in session?
Updated! Except as provided in the second sentence, pesticides may not be applied within a school building or on school grounds where students are expected to be present for normal academic instruction or organized extracurricular activities within 7 hours (or re-entry time restrictions contained on the pesticide label, whichever time period is longer) following the application.
Students may not be present in an untreated portion of the school building unless the area being treated has a separate ventilation system and is separated from the untreated portion by smoke or fire doors, or is a separate building.
51. What is considered a pesticide?
A substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest, and any substances or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant. Includes herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, insecticides, and antimicrobials. Pesticides such as "Raid" and "poison-free" pesticides are also included in this legislation.
52. Can our district use the "poison-free" pesticides now being marketed for school use without notification and posting?
"Poison-free" pesticides are considered pesticides by the PDA, and thus fall under the notification and posting requirements just the same as any other pesticide.
53. The legislation states that the 3-year record-keeping requirement does not apply to swimming pool maintenance chemicals or baits and gels. Does that mean I no longer need to keep those records?
The Pesticide Control Act of 1973 still requires records be kept by the applicator for swimming pool maintenance chemicals and baits and gels for the 3 year period. The new act does not change this.
54. Where can I get a sample copy of a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Contract Guide Specifications to provide potential Pest Management Professionals for bidding purposes?
There is a sample in the IPM For Pennsylvania Schools: a How-to Manual.
55. Does the term "student" include adult night school students for the purpose of notification?
Act 2002-36 specifies that notification be given to workers in the school building and parents and guardians of enrolled students. Many adult classes meet only once or twice a week. The PDA suggests that the district give the adult students in those night classes the opportunity for notification by informing the district, in writing, of their desire to be placed on the district's notification registry, but the legislation is silent on this.
56. Is notification required for a visiting school coming to a sports event, etc.?
Notification is required for workers in the building and for parents and guardians requesting it for their students that attend the school. Posting signs serve as notice for any other visitors to the school. The 7 hour re-entry time for the area is still in effect.
Cathy Thomas, PDA IPM Coordinator, (717) 772-5204
Dave Bingaman, Chief, Conservation and Agricultural Technology (717) 772-5208
Dave Scott, Pesticide Certification Specialist, (717) 772-5214
Ed Rajotte, PSU IPM Coordinator, (814) 863-4641
School IPM information: http://paipm.cas.psu.edu/
Pesticide Application Certification information: http://www.pested.psu.edu/
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/
(List of questions compiled by J. Kenneth Long, Jr., PA IPM Program Assistant)