Community Health

The Philadelphia School and Community IPM Partnership (PSCIP) is a collaborative project designed to radically reform pest management in underserved neighborhoods.
Community Health - Articles

Updated: January 5, 2010

Community Health

Exposure to pests and pesticides is a ubiquitous, pernicious health threat inside the city's aging homes, where residents spend up to 90% of their time. This exposure is taking its toll at the local and national levels: at the national level, for example, over the past 20 years asthma rates have increased 74% and deaths have increased by 50% (Environmental Health Watch). Contributing factors to this problem include routine pesticide spraying and fumigating by public and private pest control services, easy availability of the legal and illegal pesticides prized for their effectiveness, and the lack of awareness of and access to healthier pest management resources. PSCIP offers a safe and effective alternative through its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, that uses strategies such as sealing cracks and crevices, removing sources of food for pests, and careful use of least toxic baits and gels.

The proposed project will disseminate information about IPM strategies and empower communities to use them through a three-component initiative that will:

  • Launch a targeted campaign to increase awareness and understanding of pest infestation causes, IPM remediation techniques, and pest/pesticide risks to health. The campaign will take maximum advantage of community health fairs, schools and day care center programs, street festivals, and other events. Multi-media promotions will advertise events and the critical message they offer.
  • Train private and public sector exterminators in IPM methods. Public sector participants will include city maintenance workers and pest control workers in the housing authority, school district, and other quasi-governmental agencies. This IPM-based pest management training will be designed and delivered through existing vocational training institutions and also nonprofit community-based organizations. As part of this initiative, the program will also reach out to retail stores that sell pesticides, providing information and training on the risks of popular and dangerous pesticides, while encouraging them to stock alternatives.
  • Advocate for policy change and enforcement that requires IPM practices for pest control on city property and in the private sector, including both rental and owner-occupied properties. To achieve this end, the project will conduct at least two workshops per year for the city's elected, appointed and civil service representatives on pest/pesticide risks and IPM.

The Healthy Air in Healthy Homes project will increase Philadelphians' knowledge and awareness of the risks of pests and pesticides; improve the indoor air quality in homes and schools; reduce rates of asthma and other respiratory ailments; residents will be able to buy and use safe pest management strategies and commercial products; and all of these changes will be supported by a concerned and informed city government at all levels.