Monday, August 29, 2016

Keep Pests Out When Serving Breakfast in the Classroom

By Marcia Anderson

Breakfast in the Classroom is a popular meal program in schools nationwide, and is widely adopted in many NYC and surrounding schools. Once in the classroom, however, food becomes a source for potential pest problems. Even if students assist in cleaning up after eating their meal, wipe their desks, recycle waste appropriately, and put the trash in garbage bags, crumbs and spills may go unnoticed.

American cockroach Photo: Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,

American cockroach
Photo: Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,

Pests are not picky. Ants, flies, cockroaches, and mice are drawn to the long-forgotten crumbs in the corner and juice residue left on desks by sticky fingers. It takes very little food for pests to thrive in the hidden spaces of a classroom. Pests are attracted to any place that offers food, water, and shelter – this can include classrooms, cabinets, desks, lockers, and cubbies. Remember that managing pests is important because some can carry diseases, spread food-borne illnesses, and triggers asthma attacks and allergic reactions.

Clean up after meals. Remember that food, even if left in the classroom trash can, becomes an open invitation to any cockroach or rodent in the area.  Cleaning up regularly removes the necessities that pests need to survive. Keep paper towels or moist cleansing wipes in each classroom so students and teachers can clean desks after breakfast. Classrooms serving meals may also need more frequent vacuuming or mopping.

Disposing of trash promptly, within about two hours of the meal, and proper recycling keeps classrooms clean and pest-free. Recycling and waste management programs may need to be altered to accommodate disposal of breakfast packaging.

This NYC school serves breakfast in the classroom, but also pays particular attention to recycling and Integrated Pest Management in the classroom.

This NYC school serves breakfast in the classroom, but also pays particular attention to recycling and Integrated Pest Management in the classroom.

Implement a comprehensive pest management program. EPA recommends that schools adopt Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a smart, sensible and sustainable approach to managing pests.  IPM emphasizes preventative strategies such as sanitation, maintenance, and exclusion.  In an IPM approach, school buildings and grounds are inspected to see where pests are finding food, water, and shelter. Steps are then taken to keep pests out and to make conditions unfavorable to pests by keeping everything clean, dry, and tightly sealed. Using IPM practices to manage pests is cost effective, and reduces exposure to pests and pesticides. The goal of a school IPM program is to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff.

Following these practical steps will help keep pests out of your school when serving Breakfast in the Classroom.

About the Author: Marcia is with EPA's Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Friday, August 26, 2016

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickresearch_recap_250

Heading back to school? Get a little science refresher by checking out some of our research! Here's the latest at EPA.

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Shore

Sengekontacket Pond-the same pond where Jaws was filmed 41 years ago-and the adjacent salt marsh habitat at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary are threatened by both impaired water quality and negative environmental changes, which have eroded almost ten feet of marsh in recent years. EPA teamed up with a several other organization to build a living shoreline as a natural approach to salt marsh restoration. Find out more about living shorelines in the blog The Use of Living Shorelines.

From Grasslands to Forests, Nitrogen Impacts all Ecosystems

To date, most U.S. biodiversity studies on the effects of nitrogen deposition had been focused on individual sites, where fertilizer was applied and small plots were monitored through time. That's why EPA researcher Chris Clark and a team of scientists from EPA and collaborators are exploring the effects of nitrogen deposition in a first-of-its-kind study focused on multiple ecosystems across the nation. The study was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more about it in the blog From Grasslands to Forests, Nitrogen Impacts all Ecosystems.

Researchers at Work

Research engineer Michael Tryby develops and evaluates engineering processes for EPA tools that are used to protect public health and the environment. He currently works on our Stormwater Management Model, which is a widely-used tool that supports Green Infrastructure initiatives around the Nation and the world. Meet EPA Research Engineer Michael Tryby!

EPA Water Research Paper Earns Top Rank

A journal article by EPA's Tom Sorg was ranked #1 on the Top 20 list of published papers on arsenic science in the journal Water Research. Read the journal article Arsenic species in drinking water wells in the USA with high arsenic concentrations.

Presidential Environmental Education Awards

EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality recognized 18 teachers and 63 students from across the country for their outstanding contributions to environmental education and stewardship. Read more about the recent awards ceremony in this press release.

Need more science? Check out some of these upcoming events at EPA.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a writer working with the science communication team in EPA's Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”