Green Pest Control:
An important component of the care of the interior and exterior of buildings is the control of animal and vegetation pests. In layman's language we are talking about critters and weeds. Yet, many pesticides have been linked to health problems in persons, especially in vulnerable populations like young children and the elderly. Beyond exposure from direct application, persons can also be exposed as chemicals build up in lakes and groundwater.
Pesticides can be toxic to wildlife that we are not targeting. For example, we may unknowingly kill the predators of the pests they we are targeting as poison moves through the food supply.
The basic principle we uphold is that we should use the least toxic method available for pest control. Green practices involve Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This includes targeting specific pests as they are encountered rather than frequently using pesticides that target a broad range of pests. It includes regular monitoring of pests and use of non-chemical methods like traps and barriers.
A recognized standard for rating the hazard associated with commonly used pest management chemicals is the system developed by the City of San Francisco. It is a three level system where Tier 1 chemicals are the most hazardous and Tier 3 chemicals are the least hazardous.
Typically, pests can by controlled well by using IPM practices with only Tier 3 chemicals. The only major pest that is not typically controlled with Tier 3 chemicals is termites. There are a number of innovative green methods for preventative treatment of termite damage that can be implemented during new construction, yet the options are much more limited with existing buildings.
A good practice for facilities that indicate they follow Green Pest Management Practices is to post notifications when they encounter a pest problem that requires use of a hazardous chemical which is not on the San Francisco Tier 3 list. This discourages use of Tier 1 and 2 chemicals except when absolutely necessary and communicates this need with a spirit of integrity.
It is notable that using IPM with Tier 3 chemicals typically does not result in significant cost differences versus standard practices.
Click this link to download the 2010 San Francisco Reduced-Risk Pesticide List.
Click this link to view the Tier3Pest.com website which has a version of the San Francisco Reduced-Risk Pesticide List with more descriptive and cost information.
Green Pest Control - Certification Requirements
The following requirements must be met to achieve certification from the Green Church Association:
Implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan for interior and exterior spaces. It must include regular monitoring of pests and preference for the use of non-chemical methods like traps and barriers. It should focus on targeting specific pests as they are encountered rather than frequent scheduled use of pesticides that target a broad range of pests.
Keep a log of all pest control interventions. It must include: date, target pest, treatment (chemical name), SF Tier III (y/n).
Post notifications when you encounter a pest problem that requires use of a hazardous insecticide or molluscicide which is not on the San Francisco Tier III list and is more hazardous than those found on the San Francisco Tier III list. Your judgment about hazard level should be informed by resources like the PAN Pesticide Database and the San Francisco Hazard Screening Protocol.
Notifications including the name of the product and the active ingredients should be posted in an area where they are likely to be seen, like at entrances to the building. (In Emergency situations, notifications can occur immediately after application of a chemical.) Keep a copy of all notifications. Notifications should remain posted for at least 24 hours after pesticide application.
Requirements from Section 4 -Version 2010A
Q: What if we use a product like vinegar on weeds?
A: Record it in the log as an intervention that is not on the SF Tier III list. No notification is required. Vinegar would not be considered a hazardous chemical.
Q: Am I required to give notification about any herbicide used?
A: We understand the need to kill weeds. If they can be prevented or pulled manually this is optimal. You should record any chemical treatment of weeds on the log. You are required to take care in selecting chemicals that are the least toxic. Since there are no herbicides on the Tier III list, we have made this criteria less stringent. Yet, we still expect you to make wise decisions. For example, selecting a herbicide that has been accredited for use in organic gardening would constitute evidence of wise selection.
Q: What should we do when the building is scheduled for a preventative termite treatment?
A: Post notices about 24 hours prior to a scheduled treatment and leave them up at least 24 hours after a treatment. On the notice, explain that you have a policy of posting information about any potentially hazardous pest control products that are used on the property that are not on the SF Tier 3 list. Explain that your pest control experts have reported that the product selected is the least toxic product to treat the issue. Indicate your commitment to selecting products that promote health and minimize harm to the environment.
Q: Are there rules about how far in advance notifications must be posted?
A: No. If you know in advance that a pesticide will be used, post a notice about 24 hours in advance. For occasions when a decision is made for a pest-control professional who is already on-site to apply a chemical, have a notification template ready, enter the chemical information, and post it quickly. Someone should inform persons currently in impacted parts of the building what is being used.