The Office of Research Services (ORS), Division of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS), Community Health Branch (CHB) is responsible for providing integrated pest management (IPM) services and consultation to the NIH community on the Bethesda campus, the NIHAC in Poolesville and several off-campus facilities.
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IPM programs focus on managing the environment to prevent pest problems through the use of surveys and reports on issues such as structural repair, sanitation and housekeeping, in addition to education and training of facility personnel, and the use of least toxic pest control methods. IPM programs and services help ensure the safe and hygienic operation of NIH facilities and support the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) and Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) accreditation, Occupational Medical Service (OMS), food safety and protection, child care programs, and the occupational health and safety program at the NIH.
The IPM program works to avoid potential pest problems by:
- Conducting field surveys and pest identification to provide technical advice, recommendations and guidance.
- Reviewing plans, drawings, and specifications for the design, construction or renovation of buildings in order to incorporate integrated pest management concepts and requirements in all NIH occupied facilities.
- Collaborating with and support other ORS components in areas related to IPM, i.e., animal feed and bedding operations, solid waste management, building and grounds maintenance, housekeeping.
- Evaluating new pest management technologies and specialized methods for preventing or controlling pests in the biomedical research environment and to improve the efficiency of ongoing programs.
- Serving as the primary liaison to the extramural research community, federal and state agencies, universities, and the private sector on integrated pest management issues.
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IPM is not a singular activity (such as spraying an office with a pesticide), but a number of services used together to provide long term pest control along with a reduction in pesticide use. The components of an IPM program are:
The regular surveillance of an area using traps, visual inspections, and interviews to locate pest infestations, personnel practices, and conditions that contribute to pest infestations.
By improving sanitation and personnel practices, reducing clutter and pest harborage, an area is less likely to support a pest population.
Staff cooperation is important to correct personnel practices and conditions that contribute to pest problems. Training is conducted on subjects such as pest identification, biology, the importance of sanitation, pesticide safety, etc.
Monitoring data on pest activity and observations on housekeeping and structural deficiencies are recorded in a log book. These records are summarized as part of evaluation and training programs.
Pest management practices such as trapping, caulking, steam cleaning, and freezing can be used with a high degree of safety and are very effective in controlling pests.
Once a survey is completed, the pest management technician may decide to perform a limited pesticide application. Pesticides are one of many different IPM methods that may be used when needed and appropriate.
Monitoring data and observations summarized and reviewed by those people performing and receiving IPM services to evaluate program effectiveness. IPM services are designed to meet the unique needs of each patient care unit, cafeteria, animal care facility, office or laboratory.
IPM eliminates the routine use of pesticides and encourages more permanent non-chemical control practices. This reduces the potential hazard of pesticide exposure to patients, the research environment, and the NIH staff.
Technical oversight is part of an IPM program as it provides an objective evaluation of program activities and effectiveness. Without objective program oversight, IPM programs are likely to regress back to a traditional pesticide based program.