At our meeting this Thursday, July 10, 2008, the Albemarle County School Board will receive for information a report on how schools can adopt safer chemical management procedures. The chemicals in question are those used for cleaning, pest control, and weed control. The public can provide input during the meeting in our regular public comment opportunity which is scheduled to start at 6:50 PM. Citizens can also e-mail the School Board at SchoolBoard @ k12albemarle.org.
The staff report is available here:
Also, here is a separate update to the School Board on our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program which has almost eliminated the use of pesticides in our schools. http://www.wheeleronboard.com/docs/20080515-IPM-Safer.pdf
The IPM update notes the following: "It is also important to note that after transitioning from scheduled monthly crack and crevice treatments at each school approximately 8 months ago, ACPS has only had five pesticide treatments since the monthly treatments have ceased....Including all schools, the change from scheduled monthly treatments to IPM has resulted in approximately 200 less pesticide treatments over the course of 8 months." [i.e. with IPM, in 8 months we went from 205 routine pesticide applications to 5 spot treatments after other measures failed]
You may also be interested in the School Division's Environmental Management website:
My assessment is that School staff over the past year have successfully taken on the challenge of making our approach to chemicals both "greener" and safer for our students and employees. Citizens have played a direct role in creating the proposed safer chemical procedures as the School Board's Health Advisory Committee has been directly involved and provided oversight in this effort.
The School Board will have the opportunity to hear from the public on this matter and ask questions of staff about the details of the procedure and the budgetary impacts. Given that any "green" approach to chemical management will likely require new funding, the School Board may ask that this initiative come back to the Board at a future meeting for funding approval and/or that it be included as an initiative in the FY 2010 budget.
Here is the key summary in the staff report of the recommended procedures:
"In summary, the Procedure stipulates: 1) custodial products be certified by Green Seal™, Green Guard™ or Environmental Choice™ (See Attachment B), or meet outlined criteria; 2) high-touch surface areas (e.g. bathrooms, kitchens) be routinely sanitized or disinfected as deemed appropriate by the manager overseeing custodial operations, and that disinfection occur as soon as practicable in response to a blood-borne pathogen event or viral outbreak, or as directed by the Department of Health; 3) chemical usage be eliminated when practicable and feasible in grounds management; if chemicals must be used, then organic or biological-based alternatives be used, with 5 outlined exceptions; and 4) the County implement a formal integrated pest management (IPM) program by August 2008 for the management of indoor pests (See Attachment C). Additionally, sections 3(F) and 3(G) of the Procedure provide a waiver process for situations requiring the use of a product that does not meet the specifications and criteria of the Procedure, or for emergency situations. Lastly, the Procedure requires an annual audit to be conducted by the Environmental Compliance Managers, with a report of the annual audit being provided to the School Board for their review and information."