The Philadelphia School and Community IPM Partnership (PSCIP) is a collaborative project that brings Integrated Pest Management (IPM), the use of healthy alternatives to conventional, chemical-based pest control, to underserved neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. Low-income indoor environments commonly contain high levels of toxic pollutants that include "contaminants" from rats, mice, roaches, other pests, and pesticide residues resulting from routine spraying. Some pesticides used are banned or restricted, yet are still available and preferred because they are considered effective. The result is an alarming increase in asthma and other respiratory ailments among the poor, especially children. In 2006, 9.9 million children under 18 years of age in the US were reported to have been diagnosed with asthma; 6.8 million children had an asthmatic episode in the last 12 months. Further, African-American children have a 500% higher mortality rate from asthma as compared with Caucasian children.
PSCIP proposes a three-component project to address the growing problem of pest/pesticide-related asthma in children in underserved neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
- Design and implement a targeted campaign providing information about: 1) childhood asthma and other respiratory ailments; 2) the link between respiratory ailments and pests/pesticides; and 3) how to use IPM remediation techniques to improve respiratory health. The campaign will reach families where they live through programs in schools and day care centers, at health fairs and health centers, street festivals, and more. Using materials written in both English and Spanish, the project will launch a campaign that informs, entertains, and yields measurable results.
- Advocate for child-focused city-wide policy change and enforcement that requires IPM practices for pest control in schools, public housing and other city properties and in the private sector, including both rental and owner-occupied properties. Working with partner organizations in health, education, environmental protection, community development and related organizations, PSCIP will plan and carry out a program to inform and support positive change among city elected officers, appointed officials, and civil service employees in relevant agencies.
- Design and carry out a quantitative survey to obtain baseline data on pest infestations in high-risk sections of Philadelphia and conduct periodic re-assessments to document change. This will enable the project to tailor public education activities and measure results.
The Project will slow the rate of increase of respiratory ailments among children, increase the knowledge among children and their families of the risks of pests and the effects of toxic pesticides, generate among city officials and employees a higher level of awareness of and commitment to the use of healthy pesticides, and create a data base for tracking respiratory ailments in children in Philadelphia and measuring program results.