Friday, October 26, 2012

Trick or Treating Pests?

Fall is officially upon us and Halloween is quickly approaching. Don’t let seasonal school pests scare you from practicing integrated pest management (IPM). Try these tips to trick (not treat) pests:

*      Don’t give them something good to eat. During this time of the year, candy and other sweets are a fact of life. Remind teachers, staff, and students to place all sweet treats in sealed containers. That way pests, like ants and mice, won’t be tempted to munch on classroom goodies.
*      Keep out pests that go bump in the night. With the weather cooling down, pests may be looking for warmer places to live, like inside school buildings. Keep pests out by sealing entry points. For example, install door sweeps, secure screens, and close off wall openings. Don’t forget about entry points located on top of and underneath buildings! Many pests are more active at night than during the day, thus you may never actually see them even if they are there. So remember to leave sticky monitoring boards out overnight near the nooks and crannies where pests are likely to hide.

*      Did you hear about that school with the Haunted Storage Shed? Every year around the time it started to rain, M&O staff would start to hear creaks and groans coming from the storage shed. They also noticed that things would be moved around even though no one had been in the storage shed. They were convinced that the storage shed was haunted… Turns out it wasn’t. Instead it was so cluttered that it had become a favorite place for rats and mice to take shelter during the rainy season. To get rid of the storage shed “ghosts” M&O staff threw away the garbage, started using plastic storage bins with tight fitting lids, and organized the stored materials so they were neat and off the floor. Organize the storage areas at your school and don’t let this scary story become your reality.

Use the tips above and other IPM resources found on DPR’s School IPM Web site,, to manage your seasonal pest problems.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Pacific Northwest School IPM Pest Press on Head Lice

New PNW School IPM pest press on head lice just released:

Please forward to others who might be interested, especially school nurses.

Friday, October 19, 2012

PEPH Webinar on Children's Environmental Health - October 24th at 1:00pm ET

Children’s Environmental Health
Date: October 24, 2012
Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET
Please register at: (registration required)

Description: Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects of environmental toxins because their brains and bodies are still developing. Research in children’s health looks at the effects of air pollution on respiratory diseases, the impact of lead and mercury on cognitive development and behavior, and the influence of prenatal and early life exposures on growth and development. In this webinar, both presenters will highlight their research examining early life exposures to environmental chemicals and adverse health outcomes, and they will discuss possible interventions to reduce the exposures and improve children’s health and wellbeing.

“Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Translation from Research to Prevention” – Sheela Sathyanarayana, M.D., University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates and Bisphenol A, have been associated with a variety of adverse health impacts in animal and human studies. These chemicals are man-made and ubiquitous in the environment, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports that over 90% of the U.S. population have detectable concentrations in urine samples. Families express concern regarding these chemicals and often consult the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (sponsored by U.S. EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) to learn how to reduce exposures; however, evidence-based interventions are limited. This presentation will provide an overview of research surrounding phthalates and Bisphenol A and will present future directions in developing interventions to reduce exposures in the general population.

“Community-Based Childhood Asthma Studies in Detroit” – Toby Lewis, M.D. and Stuart Batterman, Ph.D., University of Michigan

Despite advances in medical therapy and healthcare delivery, childhood asthma remains a significant public health concern and a source of health inequality. The burden of this disease is borne disproportionately by urban, low-income residents with minority racial/ethnic heritage. National trends are reflected in Detroit, Mich., where asthma hospitalization rates are three times higher (53 per 10,000) than the statewide average. This presentation will describe the work of Community Action Against Asthma (CAAA), a community-based participatory research partnership in Detroit and Dearborn, Mich., focused on identifying environmental factors contributing to asthma health disparities, designing and testing interventions to reduce these disparities, and translating findings into policy and action. The presenters will highlight CAAA’s work characterizing home and indoor environmental exposures of children with asthma and developing multi-component environmental interventions to reduce exposure to asthma triggers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

EPA Announces Opportunity to Apply for 2013 Environmental Justice Small Grants

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it is seeking applicants for a total of $1.5 million in environmental justice small grants to be awarded in 2013. EPA’s environmental justice efforts aim to ensure equal environmental and health protections for all Americans, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. The grants enable non-profit organizations to conduct research, provide education and develop solutions to local health and environmental issues in communities overburdened by harmful pollution. Grants are available for up to $30,000 each.

“Environmental justice grants support efforts to raise awareness about local health and environmental concerns,” said Lisa Garcia, EPA’s senior advisor to the administrator for environmental justice. “By supporting local projects in under-served communities, communities are able to develop plans and partnerships that will continue to improve their local environment and better protect human health into the future.”

The 2013 grant solicitation is now open and will close on Jan. 7, 2013. Applicants must be incorporated non-profits or tribal organizations working to educate, empower and enable their communities to understand and address local environmental and public health issues. EPA will host four pre-application teleconference calls on Oct. 30, 2012; Nov. 14, 2012; Dec. 1, 2012; and Dec. 13, 2012 to help applicants understand the requirements.

Previous grants have supported activities including projects to better protect children in the Boston-area from incidences of lead poisoning and asthma attacks, conduct research on air quality in a portside Philadelphia community and provide support to residents on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota to repair failing septic systems and identify water that is unsafe to drink.

The principles of environmental justice uphold the idea that all communities overburdened by pollution – particularly minority, low income and indigenous communities – deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, equal access to the decision-making process and a healthy environment in which to live, learn and work. Since 1994, the environmental justice small grants program has provided funding in more than 1,300 communities, to community-based non-profit organizations and local governments working to address environmental justice issues. The grants represent EPA’s commitment to expand the conversation on environmentalism and advance environmental justice in communities across the nation.

More information about the Environmental Justice Small Grants program:

Environment Justice Small Grants 2013 Request for Proposals and schedule of pre-application teleconference calls:

US EPA's Release of the Voluntary Guidelines for States: Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health

EPA is pleased to announce the release of Voluntary Guidelines for States: Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health Program.   The guidelines were mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and were developed in consultation with other federal agencies, states, school officials, and non-profit organizations.

School environments play an important role in the health and academic success of children. Children spend 90% of their time indoors and much of that time is spent in school. Unhealthy school environments can affect children’s health, attendance, concentration, and performance, as well as lead to expensive, time-consuming cleanup and remediation activities.
These voluntary guidelines recommend six steps states can take to build or enhance a school environmental health program.  The guidelines also include a model K-12 school environmental health program as a resource that states can customize and share with schools and school districts to help them establish, or enhance an existing, school environmental health program.  The model program incorporates EPA’s unique school health programs such as Tools for Schools, ENERGY Star for K-12 Schools and others, to help schools and school districts begin or enhance a comprehensive school environmental health program.
To complement the guidelines release, OCHP will be hosting two webinars in October and November, respectively. The first webinar, Why Environmental Health Matters in Schools, will be held on October 17th from 2:00-3:00pm EST.  The webinar will feature Larry K. Lowry, PhD, Director of the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health (SWCPEH) and Director of Graduate Programs in Environmental Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, who will discuss the critical link between students and their environment and how it can affect their performance in school.
The second webinar, Integrated School Health Tools for Districts, will be held on Wednesday November 7th from 2:00-3:00pm EST.  This webinar will discuss how schools and school districts can create healthy environments for students by implementing a comprehensive, sustainable environmental health program.  The webinar will feature highlights, tips, and strategies from established state programs.  You can register for both webinars at:
I encourage you to share this announcement and the guidelines with your colleagues and partners to help promote healthy school environments for children.      
To learn more about the guidelines, please visit our website at  If you have questions or are interested in working with us to promote healthy schools, please contact Cyndy Merse at (202)566-2970 or email