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Department of Pesticide Regulation Funds Two Projects to Reduce Pesticide Use

Media Contact: Lea Brooks
916-445-3974 |
June 27, 2011 (11-10)

SACRAMENTO – Reducing pesticide use to control ants in urban areas and to sanitize child care centers is the target of two innovative projects receiving grants from the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), Chief Deputy Director Chris Reardon announced today. Pest Management Alliance Grants were awarded to:

  • Association of Bay Area Governments, San Francisco Estuary Partnership division: “Got Ants? Outreach to Reduce Risks from Pyrethroids to the Environment and Water Quality,” $200,000
  • University of California, San Francisco: “Green Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting: A Toolkit for Early Care and Education,” $199,966

“Most people don’t realize that pesticides used for ant control in and around their homes can affect wildlife in creeks, bays and the ocean,” Reardon said. “They also don’t associate common cleaning products with health risks to children. These projects have the potential to educate thousands of people about pest control strategies and products that are safer for the health of their families and the environment.”

These grants emphasize integrated pest management (IPM) and collaborative efforts that can be widely implemented. IPM combines natural and preventive strategies that focus on long-term pest prevention and pose a low risk to people, pets and the environment. Pesticides are used as a last resort and selected to remove only the target pest.

DPR has awarded approximately $6 million in Alliance Grants to more than 60 projects since 1998. The grants are funded by fees on pesticide sales.

Details about the projects and local media contacts follow:

Got Ants? Outreach to Reduce Water Quality Impacts from Urban Residential Ant Control

This project aims to protect surface water quality through a community-based social marketing campaign to change residents’ behavior to environmentally friendly ways to control ants in urban neighborhoods. The campaign will be directed at both people who hire pest control businesses and do-it-yourselfers who spray pesticides around their homes and outbuildings. The campaign will recommend actions that are simple - asking your pest control company to switch to a green (IPM) service, hiring IPM-certified pest control companies, using baits instead of sprays - but can add up to a big improvement for waterways.

The goals are a 5 percent reduction in pyrethroid and fipronil use by pest control businesses and do-it-yourselfers, and collecting commitments from 500 households by 2014 to adopt IPM practices to control ants.

Pesticides are commonly sprayed on or near walkways, driveways and other impervious surfaces with a high potential for runoff. Surface water monitoring of both urban and rural waterways throughout the state has detected pesticides at levels toxic to some small aquatic organisms.

The project will complement an extensive body of work on least-toxic ant control strategies in gardens and landscapes by making this information instantly accessible. A website and outreach campaign will be developed to increase public awareness of IPM practices for ant management. Mobile phone and online advertising and e-mail blasts will serve as “prompts” to this easy-to-use information when ants invade.

Outreach is planned in the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Coast, Sacramento and Santa Monica. Materials and IPM messages will be distributed through 50 partner organizations, with the goal of reaching 100,000 people throughout California. Key partners include the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association, city of San Jose and the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.

Got Ants? will be run by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, which brings together resource agencies, nonprofits, citizens and scientists to work on projects and develop policies that protect water quality and restore fish and wildlife habitat in and around the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary. The partnership is part of the Association of Bay Area Governments through which it shares information and news about the estuary with elected officials, decision makers and the public. The media contact is Athena Honore, communications officer, at 510/622-2325 or

Green Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting: A Toolkit for Early Care and Education

This project will develop a toolkit and hold workshops for early care and education providers on the health risks of commonly used cleaners with antimicrobial pesticides. Information will also be provided on how to select and properly use reduced-risk products and nonchemical options. The focus is viruses, bacteria, fungi and mold that cause illnesses such as asthma and infectious disease among children and staff.

An estimated one million California children attend early care and education programs where antimicrobial sanitizers and disinfectants are used regularly. Infants and toddlers may be especially vulnerable because of frequent diaper changes that require repeated use of these products. Their immature immune systems and poor hygiene also place them at higher risk for infectious disease.

Most child care providers and regulators focus on the risk of transmission. There is confusion about the differences between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection and the effectiveness of “green” or “organic” products. For example, many hand sanitizers and antimicrobial soaps contain triclosan, a product that doesn’t kill viruses. These products are widely used when handwashing is not feasible even though most common infectious diseases in child care facilities are caused by viruses.

The materials will explain to providers the best practices for safe prevention of infectious diseases in their facilities. Fact sheets for families on cleaning and disinfecting more safely and effectively at home will be included.

IPM practices advocated by the project include proper and frequent handwashing; coughing and sneezing etiquette; cleaning of high-risk, high-touch surface areas with microfiber cloths and mops and soap and water; prevention or removal of microbe-harboring biofilm on surfaces and use of new non- chemical disinfection technologies.

Toolkit materials will be used in eight workshops scheduled in Northern California and Los Angeles beginning in March 2013 Partners include California Department of Public Health, Alameda and Los Angeles counties and Berkeley-Albany YMCA Early Childhood Services.

The toolkit will be similar to UC San Francisco’s Integrated Pest Management: A Toolkit for Early Care and Education Programs completed in 2011 with a previous Pest Management Alliance Grant. More information on that project is posted at:

The media contact is Elizabeth Fernandez, senior public information representative, at 415/514-1592 or

One of five departments and boards within the California Environmental Protection Agency, DPR regulates the registration, sale and use of pesticides to protect people and the environment. Additional information about DPR is posted at