Monthly Archives: April 2015

IPM for School Grounds Workshop – April 21, 2015

Join the NYS IPM Program of Cornell University and Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES for a seminar on implementing integrated pest management on school grounds. Emphases will include managing quality athletic fields in light of the Child Safe Playing Field Act, developing school IPM policies, and pest situations such as weeds, grubs, stinging insects, and geese.

Lynn Braband talking geese at a school grounds workshop.
Lynn Braband talking geese at a school grounds workshop.

There is no fee for the workshop, but pre-registration is requested. Contact Kelly Wasson of Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES at or 315-597-3469.


Canandaigua CSD Operations Center, 5500 Airport Rd., Canandaigua, NY 14424


7:30 – 8:00            Registration

8:00 – 8:45            Developing School IPM Policies – Lynn Braband, NYS IPM Program

8:45 – 9:30            Regulatory Update – Kelly Wasson, Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES

9:30 -9:45             Break

9:45 -11:15          Managing Your Athletic Fields & School Grounds in Light of the Child Safe Playing Field – Jennifer Grant, NYS IPM Program

11:15 – 12:00       Managing Stinging Insects & Geese on School Grounds – Lynn Braband, NYS IPM Program

Environmental Health in Schools

This week, we celebrated National Healthy Schools Day, making it a good time to share some of the EPA’s resources. Their common-sense, voluntary guidelines help schools create a “holistic, comprehensive, and actionable strategy that integrates preventative measures and addresses environmental health issues by fostering well-maintained school buildings and grounds.  Sustainable school environmental health programs promote environments that are conducive to learning and protect the health of building occupants.  Successful school environmental health programs are best implemented and maintained by promoting awareness and participation among teachers, staff, and students.”

Here’s the five major components:

Practice Effective Cleaning and Maintenance.  aka Green Cleaning… using products that have low volatility, neutral pH, no known carcinogens and are biodegradable.

Prevent Mold and Moisture, which not only affects building longevity, but can increase pests such as mites, roaches and rodents which also increase asthma and allergies.

Reduce Chemical and Environmental Contaminant Hazards. This is not just pesticides, but includes mercury, lead and PCB-containing products.  Here’s a guide to help you recognize risks.

Ensure Good Ventilation.  Indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air and large populations of children might be more susceptible to indoor pollutants than the general population.  The EPA uses ASHRAE national standards.

Prevent Pests, and Reduce Pesticide Exposure.

This sounds just like IPM to us!

For more on  how each of these components fits in to an IPM policy in your school, visit the NYS IPM Program.

Ticks are Disgusting

Ticks are disgusting, but don’t take our word for it. Aristotle, Cato, and Pliny all referred to ticks as “disgusting parasites”.

Ticks are a public health risk because they feed on the blood of humans and other animals  and can transmit several diseases, including Lyme disease.  These tiny, blood-feeding arthropods are more closely related to spiders and mites than insects. With wide host-ranges, ticks can be found in many environments – shorelines, forests, farms, fields, and playgrounds. On school and child care facilities, they may be found on fields and play yards located in and around wooded areas, paths, and cross-country trails.

Did You Know…?

This questing tick is ready to latch onto the next passing mammal - possibly you! Photo credit: Jim Occi, BugPics,

This questing dog tick is ready to latch onto the next passing mammal – possibly you! Photo credit: Jim Occi, BugPics,

  • By the numbers: There are 671 species of hard-bodied ticks and 167 species of soft-bodied ticks worldwide. There are four major species of ticks in New York.
  • Frost resistant: As long as the temperature is above freezing, ticks can be on the move. Even on those warm January days, be sure to protect yourself from ticks.
  • No jumping, dropping, or flying: Ticks quest, which means they stand at the tips of grass or ends of branches and wave their front claws in the air, waiting for something to brush by.
  • Taking their time: Finding a tick on a child is not proof that the tick came from the school or child care property. Ticks can take a while before they start attaching, and then can take another two hours to insert their mouthparts.
  • Tweezers are best! Use fine-pointed tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up until the tick releases. Grab it too high, or using other methods such as matches, nail polish, or petroleum jelly, could irritate it, causing it to regurgitate its disease ridden stomach contents directly into your blood stream.

Awareness and a little precaution can help you steer clear of tick-borne illness and the discomfort of being bitten by ticks. See our Understanding and Managing Ticks – A Guide for Schools, Child Care and Camps fact sheet for more information on ticks and how to manage them at your school or child care.

National Healthy Schools Day

April 7th is National Healthy Schools Day.

Since 2002 parents, teachers, school nurses, custodians, advocates, and agencies have promoted National Healthy Schools Day activities nationwide. Whether you are at the beginning stages of investigating school environments or have an established Indoor Air/Environmental Quality program, the Healthy School Network invites you to host a local activity that educates others and celebrates your school’s successes.

National Healthy Schools Day is coordinated by Healthy Schools Network in partnership with many agencies and organizations.  Together they promote the use of EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools guidance as well as other EPA environmental health guidelines and programs for schools and children’s health.

Locally, New York State’s NYSERDA (The NYS Energy Research and Development Authority) and the NYS Education Department released NY-CHPS, comprehensive healthy and high performance school design guidelines for NYS schools. Healthy Schools Network worked to bring the NYS Education Department and NYSERDA together to create these guidelines and then served as an advisor to the project during its development.

These guidelines were adopted in 2007 and are now available at…

With recent news events, there is also more focus on how far a school is from railroad tracks or proposed oil pipelines, as well as gas wells.

The most basic effort lies in reducing the use of chemicals for cleaning.
“Green Cleaning” helps everyone in a school environment and can teach us about products used at home.

The New York State Integrated Pest Management program promotes healthy schools with our emphasis on IPM for schools.  Reducing pests and pesticides in schools is a major factor in improving indoor air quality.

For more, follow these links:

Cleaning for Healthy Schools

Healthy Schools New York

National Healthy Schools Network

Head Lice – A Lousy Pest

Head lice, Pediculus humanus capitas, are small insects, about the size of a sesame seed, that infest human hair and feed on blood from the scalp. While they don’t spread disease, their movement can cause a tickling sensation and their bites can by itchy. Scratching leads to irritation, scabs, and open sores, which can sometimes get infected.

Photo credit: Gilles San Martin/flickr

Head louse. Photo credit: Gilles San Martin/flickr

Did You Know…?

  • By the numbers: There are over 3,000 species of lice worldwide. Head lice only infest humans and specialize on the, well, head.
  • No jumping, dropping, or flying: Head lice crawl and spread mostly through head to head contact and sometimes through sharing head gear such as hats and helmets.
  • Giving kids a reason to avoid their bath: Clean hair is easier for lice to climb through.
  • No “No-Nit Policies”: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control states that No-Nit Policies are unnecessary and contribute to needless absenteeism.

Have questions? We have answers! See our Head Lice – Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet for more information.