Pesticide Toxicity Reduction
Integrated Pest Management
Contra Costa County's official policy is to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to manage pest problems on County property. See the County IPM Program webpage and County IPM Policy (PDF) for more information.
IPM is an approach to managing pests that combines biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks. Less toxic methods of pest controls, such as use of organic substances, are employed before escalating to the use of chemical alternatives.
IPM is good news for you, your family and your watershed. IPM uses a wide variety of tactics to deal with pest problems. It's a sensible and thoughtful approach to pest control that concentrates on prevention and long-term solutions. Pesticides are not prohibited in IPM, but they are used as a last resort and only as "spot treatments" - placed exactly where and when they are needed. If pesticides are to be used, the least hazardous types are selected in order to minimize the risk to people and the environment.
How does IPM fit into your daily life? Think back over the last few months. Have you been annoyed by ants marching through your kitchen? IPM techniques can help lessen this problem while improving the health of our watersheds. Preventive measures are at the top of the list. For ants, this includes depriving them of food and blocking their access points into your house.
You can do this by keeping your dishes, counters, and floors clean, and storing food in the refrigerator, in plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, or in screw-top jars that have a rubber seal on the lid. If you can't get to the dishes, cover them with soapy water. Empty the trash frequently or tie the garbage bag in a knot so ants can't get in. Keeping food wastes in a separate, ant-proof container or in a sealed plastic bag is another alternative. In order to keep ant invasions down, try caulking cracks and crevices. Some holes you will be able to see, and the ants will show you the others. You don't have to fill every crack and crevice immediately. Keep a tube of caulk in the house, and when you have a spare moment, fill the obvious entry points. The next time ants invade, follow the trail back to see if you can find where they're getting in. Seal it and wipe the ants up with soapy water which also eliminates their scent trail. Or you can vacuum them up and they'll quickly die in the dust of the vacuum bag.
All County contractors providing pest control services are required to be IPM-certified by an organization such as EcoWise Certified, Greenshield, or Greenpro. The County Watershed Program (CWP) works with all County Departments that apply pesticides, including the Public Works Department Maintenance Division's Vegetation Management crews and the General Services Department Grounds Division to make sure they are utilizing IPM strategies.