Keeping Kids Healthy

Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides. Midwest Pesticide Action Center works with building managers, schools, childcares, and parks to protect children from exposure to pesticides where they live, learn, and play.

Continue reading for: Where They Live, Where They Learn, Where They Play

Where They Live

Cultivating a healthy home is essential to protecting children’s health. Midwest Pesticide Action Center provides thousands of families with easy to use information and guidance on how to manage pest problems in the home in the safest and most effective ways.

  • We translated many of our documents into Spanish, Polish, French, and Mandarin—the most commonly spoken languages other than English in the Midwest.
  • The information and resources provided help protect children from being unnecessarily exposed to the toxins in pesticides linked to health problems like asthma, leukemia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • In collaboration with the Respiratory Health Association, we trained hundreds of asthma education professionals on the risks pests and pesticides pose to children in order to improve the health outcomes of those with asthma.

Visit our Managing Healthy Homes page to see what we do to educate families on safe, effective pest control.

Where They Learn

Affecting Policy and Policymakers

Midwest Pesticide Action Center made it a priority to work with policy makers and school administrators to make the indoor and outdoor environments of these facilities as safe as possible by eliminating the use of toxic chemicals. Our successes include:

  • Developing the training video “Integrated Pest Management in Illinois Schools: A Better Method” to inform the school and childcare community about the new laws, which is now free and available to everyone on YouTube.

  • Working to amend the Structural Pest Control Act in Illinois to require schools and childcare facilities to adopt an Integrated Pest Management program for pest control.
  • Amending the Lawn Care Products Application and Notice Act that requires schools and childcare facilities to notify parents before applying pesticides and other lawn care treatments.
  • Educating parents on their right to know when pesticides are applied to their children’s school and childcare facilities.

Learn more about these laws that relate to schools and childcare facilities on our Policy page.

Assisting Schools and Childcare Facilities

Our children spend a considerable amount of their days at schools and childcare facilities; some spend more than 60 hours a week in these facilities. Midwest Pesticide Action Center works to protect our children in these environments.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized our school programs in 2008 with the Environmental Justice Achievement Award. Our success includes:

  • Helping the third-largest school district in the nation, Chicago Public Schools, to adopt Integrated Pest Management as a district-wide policy by:
    • Developing the criteria for contracting with pest control providers qualified to conduct Integrated Pest Management activities;
    • Training more than 1,000 building engineers, custodial, and food service staff in Integrated Pest Management;
    • Reducing the reliance on pesticide applications for pest control in 681 schools, servicing 401,000 students.
  • Engaging and educating the childcares community in activities designed to reduce pesticide exposure for our children by:
    • Amending the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ Licensing Standards for Day Care Centers to reflect new state Integrated Pest Management laws, including the notification requirement;
    • Providing workshops for day care inspectors on an Integrated Pest Management requirements for licensure;
    • Developing continuing education resources for childcare staff and management reaching more than 2,500 individuals and 650 childcare centers and homes resulting  in reduced pesticide exposure for more than 45,000 young children in Illinois.
    • Establishing the Pesticide-Free Childcares Coalition to work in low-income and minority communities to help childcare facilities comply with Illinois state laws. Learn more on our Environmental Justice Page.
  • Assisting other schools and childcare facilities in adopting an Integrated Pest Management program with the use of our Resource Guide for Integrated Pest Management in Schools and Childcares.
    • More than 1,000 school and childcare personnel representing 200+ school districts and 388 childcare facilities across Illinois received technical assistance and training on use of the guide.
  • Helping to develop the Chicago Asthma Consortium, School Task Force’s “Asthma Friendly School Award.”
    • This award recognizes schools that promote a healthful environment for all students. The award requires schools to maintain an integrated pest-management plan to receive recognition. Since 2010, 30 schools received the award.

If your facility would like to adopt a program with specialized training from Midwest Pesticide Action Center, email Executive Director Ruth Kerzee at

Where They Play

Midwest Pesticide Action Center cultivates public parks, school grounds, and backyards that provide healthy spaces for children. Our multiple sustainable landscape and water quality campaigns and toolkits encourage limited use of lawn pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that compromise water quality, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and our overall exposure to toxic chemicals.

For More Information

Resource Guide for Schools and Childcares: For information on implementing an Integrated Pest Management Program in your school or childcare. Learn More

Activist’s Toolkit: For information on advocating for healthy spaces in your community. Learn More

Video: Integrated Pest Management in Illinois Schools: A Better Method. Learn More

View all resources