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The overuse or inappropriate application of cleaning chemicals and pesticides can be a threat to children's health and the environment.

Fungicides, insecticides and pesticides are chemicals that are used to kill or control pests, including bacteria, fungi, weeds, insects, and rodents. Most pesticides are toxic, which means their purpose is to kill something. They may contain hazardous air pollutants that cause serious health and environmental effects.

Health Effects

Exposure to hazardous chemicals can endager children's health because their smaller, rapidly developing bodies may be more sensitive to harmful chemicals. Children are not little adults. They breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food, pound for pound than adults. When children play they crawl and put things in their mouth. This could increase their exposure to pesticides. Scientific study on exposure to chemicals in pesticides is in the early stages, but great concern exists in the environmental and medical community that excessive exposure to pesticides at a young age can contribute to serious developmental problems.


Integrated Pest management (IPM)--A Comprehensive Approach

(IPM) is a cluster of tools, used to prevent and control pests by using alternatives to pesticides whenever possible.

IPM includes:

Integrated pest management is a proactive, holistic approach in contrast to the reactive nature of chemical treatment strategies. In fact, over time pests may become resistant and build-up greater tolerance to chemicals used on them repeatedly.

  1. Never spray pesticides when children are present. Never allow a pest control operator or certified staff to spraywhen children are present. Follow the directions on the label to learn when it is safe for children to return to the room or building after pesticide application.
  2. Prevent entryways for pests. Prevent the entry of insects and/or rodents with mesh screen on outside openings. Apply sealant around pipes, plumbing, ducts, and on cracks.
  3. Clean. To minimize pest attraction to food sources or standing water there should not be food crumbs, food should be stored securely and off the floor and vents must be free of grease. Pest infestations are directly related to the availability of food and water.
  4. Contract with a licensed pest control operator as necessary. If insects and rodents become a problem, meaning they persist despite the techniques described above, contact a pest control operator.
  5. READ LABELS and use products correctly. Do not use a product labeled for outdoor use, lawns, or agricultural use indoors. Store pesticides in their original containers and in a secure site accessible only to adults. Use the right chemical for the right job. Use the right amount for the job. Do not overuse.
  6. Store all pesticides and other chemicals properly.(FSSA) Licensed child care centers must store all pesticides, cleaning supplies, and hazardous articles in locked areas that are inaccessible to children.


  1. Store food properly. Store food in sealable containers, such as sealable plastic containers or zipper lock bags. Do not store food products on the floor or in cardboard boxes, which are havens for rodents and cockroaches. Rotate your food stock and clean food storage areas frequently, especially beneath and behind shelves. Keep trash covered. To avoid roaches, do not store food in cardboard or paperboard boxes.
  2. Eliminate water sources. Keep mops off the floor, ensure floor drains are clear and sinks and counters are dry after use. Mosquitos can breed in water accumulating in puddles or buckets outdoors. If tires are used for swings, climbing devices, or used for sand boxes, drill small holes in them to prevent water collection.
  3. Request that your pest control operator use Integrated Pest Management strategies.
  4. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables with running water before eating. Wash and scrub all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water, which has an abrasive effect that soaking alone does not. Washing will help remove bacteria and traces of pesticides; however, not all pesticides residues can be removed by washing. You may need to peel fruits and vegetables when possible to reduce dirt, bacteria, and pesticides. Discard outer leaves of leafy vegetables.


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