185114 Using an integrated pest management (IPM) toolkit to reduce pesticide exposure and pest infestation in subsidized multi-family housing

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:30 AM

Laurie Stillman, MM , Asthma Regional Council of New England, Health Resources in Action, Boston, MA
Margaret Reid, RN, BS , Boston Public Health Commission, Boston, MA
Susan Altman, MA , Altman Consulting, Medford, MA
Emily M. Litonjua, MA , Asthma Prevention and Control, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston, MA
Pest infestation is a major quality of life issue for public and subsidized housing residents, particularly in urban multifamily housing. In Boston, public housing residents are disproportionately impacted by asthma: A study of one development documented 50% of residents had doctor diagnosed asthma. Exposure to pests can cause asthma to worsen in those who are allergic: A study of 937 asthmatic low income inner city children found over 67% had cockroach allergy. To address infestations, building owners rely on traditional pest management approaches – often heavy and indiscriminate usage of pesticides that are ineffective and can harm health. Frustrated families respond by using high toxicity pesticides that can also worsen their asthma. One study of 60 asthmatic children found residues of illegal and restricted pesticides in every unit tested.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and safe pest control method. It eliminates access, food sources, water and harborage and allows application of low- toxicity pesticides only when absolutely necessary. A toolkit based on a successful Boston Housing Authority (BHA) participatory model was developed describing IPM benefits and providing a step by step guide for an effective IPM program involving residents and managers. Community health advocates provided in-home education, supplies and referral to services to support the IPM effort. Resident engagement is critical to the success of the project; IPM only works when managers, IPM contractors and residents are working together. The results of the program in three developments at BHA demonstrated a minimum 55% drop in pest complaints.

Learning Objectives:
1) Discuss how Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can reduce pest infestations that exacerbate asthma and can reduce residents’ exposure to pesticides. 2) Describe ways the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Toolkit can help owners of subsidized housing control pests more safely and effectively, using a community-based model 3) Understand how to replicate a successful Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in their community.

Keywords: Asthma, Pesticide Exposure

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was responsible for editing the IPM Toolkit which is being presented at this session.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.