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Pest Management for Schools, Day Care Centers and Parents

A picture of children playing soccer on a field.

Pesticide Prohibition on Grounds at Schools and Day Care Centers

Under amendments to the State Education Law (Section 409-k) and Social Services Law (Section 390-g), no school or day care center can apply pesticides to any playgrounds, turf, or athletic or playing fields. The requirements are administered by the State Education Department for schools and by the Office of Children and Family Services for day care centers. Contact those agencies for information and answers to questions on the prohibition. Contact information is contained in NYSDEC Guidance (see below).

Emergency Pesticide Application Determinations

Under the State Education Law and Social Services Law, no school or day care center may apply pesticides on the grounds, except that an emergency application may be made, as determined by entities identified in the law, including NYSDEC. DEC will make determinations only for pesticide application emergency requests from non-public schools and day care centers which involve environment-related issues.

Important Information for Non-Public Schools and Day Care Centers - DEC Policy on Requests for Emergency Pesticide Application Determinations

The NYSDEC Policy regarding emergency requests from non-public schools and day care centers contains the following:

  • The determination request form in Word format (46 KB) and in PDF format (49 KB) for non-public schools and day care centers.
  • Types of emergency pesticide application requests DEC will consider from non-public schools and day care centers for environmental issues.
  • Procedures and forms DEC staff will use when making emergency determinations, in response to requests from non-public schools and day care centers for emergency applications for environmental purposes.

NOTE: The NYS Department of Health (DOH) makes determinations regarding emergency pesticide applications for public health-related issues at non-public schools and day care centers (see DOH website). Public schools seek emergency determinations from their school boards; contact the school board or the State Education Department, Office of Facilities Planning at 518-474-3906.

Guidance for Schools and Day Care Centers

NYSDEC developed Guidance (PDF) (233 KB) designed to help schools and day care centers comply with the pesticide prohibition, as required under Chapter 85 of the Laws of 2010. The Guidance includes:

  • Summary of pesticide prohibition and related requirements, including allowed pesticides.
  • Introductory tips on alternatives to pesticides for grounds management, such as maintaining soil health and plant selection.
  • Link to resources on grounds management without pesticides for more in-depth tips.
  • Information on allowed pesticides.
  • Contact information for the State Education Department and the Office of Children and Family Services.

DEC's Role with Schools and Day Care Centers Regarding Pest Management

In general, schools and day care centers are regulated by other agencies (State Education Department (schools) and OCFS (day care centers)). Most questions should be directed to those agencies. However, DEC regulates certain aspects of pesticide use at schools and day care centers as summarized below:

  • Certify pesticide applicators which provide pesticide services
  • Make emergency pesticide application determinations regarding environmental issues at non-public schools and day care centers.
  • Issue Guidance (PDF) (233 KB)on alternatives to pesticides for grounds management at schools and day care centers.
  • Encourage us of integrated pest management (IPM) and alternatives to pest management.

Why is it Important to Think About Potential Pesticide Exposure at Schools and Day Care Centers?

Schools and day care centers are our children's homes-away-from-home. They have a special duty to properly manage pests in a manner that protects children of all ages from the risk of pesticide exposure. They must also provide advance notification of pesticide use.

"Pesticides" are substances intended to destroy or repel insects, weeds, rodents, fungi, and certain microbes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "Pesticides play an important role in food supply protection and disease control, but they can also be harmful to human health." NYSDEC regulates pesticides, because of their potential to cause harm. Through all of our pesticide programs - from deciding which products to register and which to restrict, to ensuring that applicators are trained and certified, to enforcement - we strive to be as protective as possible of public health and the environment. One of the most protective approaches is to encourage effective alternative means of pest management wherever possible.

A picture of a class of kids being read a story.

Potential harm from pesticides is especially important to consider in schools and day care centers because children are at greater risk from chemical exposure. Children are not little adults - from infants to teens, they are growing and developing. Their bodies have not yet reached developmental maturity. This means that they are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of many pesticides and other chemicals. Behaviors of young children, such as putting things in their mouths and crawling on the floor, put them at additional risk from pesticide exposure.

What are the Pest Management Alternatives for Schools and Day Care Centers?

To help promote green and healthy communities and a toxic-free future, schools, day care centers and parents should consider all pest management options and alternatives. Prevention and planning are key to effective pest control. Pesticides may have a temporary effect, but unless preventative measures are instituted, pests will return to areas where food, water and shelter are available. There are many effective alternatives to using pesticides, such as good sanitation and food storage, caulking holes and cracks, and fixing leaky faucets and roofs. You can view the list of internet resources on alternatives on the pest management resource list using the links below or in the left hand navigation.

What Are the Requirements for Providing Notification Prior to Pesticide Use?

If a school or day care center decides pesticides need to be applied, they have an obligation to let parents and staff know ahead of time. This requirement, together with other requirements that apply to lawn care applications in some New York State Counties, is known as "Neighbor Notification". Read a summary of school and day care center responsibilities under the Neighbor Notification Law and lawn care notification requirements using the links below or in the left hand navigation.


More about Pest Management for Schools, Day Care Centers and Parents: