Pest Management and Pesticide Use in California Child Care Centers

This study was conducted in response to new legislation on pest management in child care centers. The objective of the study was to identify pest problems and pest management practices in California child care centers, and to develop strategies for education and encouragement of the use of safer methods, like Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

The goal of this study was to:

  • Survey California child care centers about their pest problems, pest management practices,and awareness and compliance with pest management legislation.
  • Develop strategies for education and encouragement of the use of safer methods, like Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Findings from the Pest Management Study: (Go to findings) or
(Go to Exposure Studies Findings page to see findings from related studies)

Other Links:

What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

IPM is a strategy to prevent and treat pest problems using a combination of prevention, monitoring, record keeping and control methods such as eliminating food sources and sealing cracks and crevices in buildings where pests can enter. Chemical pest controls that pose the least possible hazard to human health and the environment are used only after careful monitoring and when non-chemical methods have failed.

New Legislation in 2007:

The study was prompted by the 2007 extension of the Healthy Schools Act (HSA) to child care centers.  The HSA regulates pesticide use in California child care centers and encourages the use of IPM to reduce pesticide use and pesticide application methods that minimize human exposure.

The HSA requires that child care centers

  • Keep records about pesticide use,
  • Notify parents and staff before pesticide are applied, and
  • Post signs in areas where pesticides will or have been applied.
  • Specifically, the HSA regulates the use of broadcast pesticide application methods (i.e., spray or foggers that can leave residues on surfaces and in the air).  Pesticides use where the active ingredient is contained in baits, gels, or traps is exempt from the HSA.

For more information on the HSA, see:


  • California child care facilities

Data Collection:

  • In 2008, a total of 637 licensed California child care centers responded to a survey questionnaire, which was mailed to 2,000 randomly selected child care centers out of approximately 12,000 licensed centers in California.
  • The brief survey was available in English and Spanish, and addressed indoor and outdoor pest problems and management practices at the child care centers.

Community Partners:

Research Team:

  • Asa Bradman
  • Chris Dobson, MPH
  • Vickie Leonard, PhD, University of California San Francisco
  • Belinda Messenger, PhD, California Department of Pesticide Regulation
Funded By: Duration: Study Contact:
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation  (DPR) 2008-2010, ongoing Asa Bradman, PhD
Director, Environmental Quality in California Childcare Research and Outreach Program
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