*** Click on an arrow like this to come back here ***
Minimizing indoor use of chemicals all over campus would improve the physical health of students, staff and faculty and help maintain a cleaner environment--both indoors and out. Finding alternative methods for the control of pests on campus may provide a more stable and sustainable future for the University of Waterloo.
Because of certain outside factors, our study cannot be completely contained within the boundaries of the campus. For our biophysical system, there are two such outside factors: the chemicals, and the pests themselves.
Pests initiate the problem on which our study focuses. Their biological makeup, area of origin, migration patterns, resistance and susceptibility to foreign pesticides, and breeding and seasonal habits of the pests need to be examined. By examining these things, we hope to determine the causes of their existence on campus, their effects, and effective measures to eliminate them. The pests enter the campus and inhabit various areas. When the insects enter the campus buildings, they enter the biophysical system relevant to our study.
Another outside input which causes concern are the chemicals used to control the pest population. Their origin, composition and chemical reaction once applied all need to be examined in order to better understand their implications on the environment.
Chemical agents are brought onto campus as part of a response to a demand from the university's purchasing department. The purchasing department may hire pest control companies for preventative or reactive measures in response to a perceived pest problem. The chemicals enter the university campus via the pest control companies by being applied in the buildings as pest control measures. Once they are applied, the chemicals become categorized as outputs, and have great potential to affect many aspects of the campus environment. The chemicals are added to the air and transmitted throughout the buildings via the ventilation system, exposing everyone in the buildings to the chemicals.
As the air leaves the buildings, also through the ventilation systems, the chemicals are carried to the outside environment. These chemicals then have the potential to affect animals and enter the food chain. In determining what methods should be considered for pest management, we must consider the possible impacts on the outside environment.
Regional policies and regulations are the highest in the hierarchy since they form the rules that the purchasing department must adhere to in managing pests on campus. Regional polices also place restrictions on the pest control companies as to the types of chemicals they may use, how often they are applied, and what precautions must be abided by in application procedures. This connection between policies and pest control is marked as a dotted line in Figure 2 because the regional policies are an input from outside of our campus system.
The purchasing department hears of pest problems on campus from the staff or faculty of different departments. The purchasing department then hires the pest control company. It is important to consider that since the administration is not in direct contact with the pests themselves, they may be responding to a perceived problem and not an actual pest problem.
The pest control companies are hired to manage infested or potentially infested areas. The control methods may contain harmful chemicals which could affect the health of the staff, faculty or students if the appropriate precautions are not taken. The people may or may not be aware of the chemicals they are exposed to, depending on the education or warnings posted. Such warnings would make people aware and give them the opportunity to leave the buildings. It is unclear who has the responsibility to educate the people who are exposed to the chemicals. This information may not be passed on and thereby represent another possible problem in this system.
We will be evaluating the system of communication on campus as to its ability to handle the pest problem safely and as effectively as possible. We must determine whether the communication links are intact and all parties are interacting appropriately. The purchasing department should be completely informed of the problem and respond appropriately. As well, someone should be passing on all the appropriate safety information to all people exposed to any potential harm from the control measures. We plan to investigate the extent and effectiveness of this awareness effort and determine whether people are adequately warned of the possible hazards.
What are the possible environmental and health impacts of these chemicals? How effective are they? For which bugs should they be used? Who chose these chemicals?
What form are they in when they are applied (liquid? paste? powder?) How are they applied (sprayed?) Do they end up in the air?
Are the chemicals applied at regular intervals, regardless of the incidence of pests? Who decided how often they should be applied?
Is it a set quantity each time? How is this quantity determined?
Pastes, boric acid or fly paper? Are these less effective?
What species? How resistant are they to different chemicals? What problems do they cause? How are they best controlled?
Do they cause a problem? How big is the problem? Does the number of pests vary throughout the year?
What methods are the most effective to control these pests? What methods would be the safest? the cheapest?
What federal, provincial or regional laws govern pesticide use indoors? What regulations does the University of Waterloo have concerning indoor pest control?
Compare what is being done to what should be done to control our pests. Do they match? What is the difference? Is the chemical use preventative or responsive to a pest problem?
Are they harmful to humans? to the environment? how?
Are the people who frequent the buildings warned about the chemicals? Do they have the opportunity to avoid sprayed areas if they so choose?
The most popular pest that frequents the libraries is the german cockroach. This pest is a small insect of 10 to 15 mm in length and is yellowish-brown in colour. The life span of an adult is 125 to 150 days and there can be two or three generations of these insects per year.
The german cockroach tends to breed in moist and warm environments, and can be found in glue for binding books, human food stores, briefcases and stores of paper. They prefer damp environments and they normally lurk around in the dark.
The german cockroach is a concern for humans because it is a carrier of the bacteria Salmonella which is responsible for some types of food poisoning.
The next most popular pest found in libraries are booklice or psocids. They are small, pale yellow insects of less than 2mm in length. They tend to breed in damp, moist areas, feeding on the molds and fungi which may grow there. Old books are often infested with these types of pests if they have been allowed to become damp and have a distinctive musty odour.
Booklice do not bite nor are their known carriers of human infections, but they are a nuisance and should be controlled.
Silverfish are another pest problem typically found in libraries. They are slender, wingless, scale-covered insects of approximately 13mm in length. A silverfish can survive for more than 300 days without food.
Silverfish breed in warm, secluded places, often near radiators and heat pipes. They damage glazed paper and glues or pasted materials such as bookbindings and wallpaper. They eat bonding glue in wood-processing plants and damage many types of fibres.
Finally, springtails are a group of very small wingless insects ranging from 1 to 2 mm in length. They also tend to breed in damp environments, where algae, fungi and decaying organic matter is available (i.e. old food left behind). Their damage is minimal, but they are unhealthy and unsanitary.
The american cockroach is found very often in food areas. It is the largest of the common cockroaches, being 30 to 40 mm in length. It can fly but flight is rare and sluggish. Their lifespan can be up to two years.
The american cockroach prefers to breed in warm, moist areas, and is often found on surfaces where food is stored or prepared, in areas where water is abundant and near hot water pipes.
The american cockroach, like its german counterpart, is a carrier of Salmonella, and is thereby a major health hazard.
These pests are fairly common around restaurants, kitchens and grocery stores. They are typically 1 to 2 mm long and have wings. Their lifespan is normally up to three months.
They breed in warm, moist environments where there is a supply of decaying fruit or vegetable matter, or in areas that contain large amounts of sugar or starch.
The fruit and drain fly is harmless but is very unsanitary according to health laws and regulations.
Professor Surgeoner suggested five ways of managing the population of pests:
PCO has been employed by the University of Waterloo since 1990. Initially, applications of pesticides were needed on 80% of the campus. According to Mark Newman of PCO, since that time, PCO's need to apply such substances has decreased to zero.
The tactic this company takes is called Integrated Pest Management. Simply put, it means that PCO works not just for the university, but with them in order to achieve a pest-free campus. PCO educates the University about preventative measures such as good sanitation, and the University thereby participates in the task of pest control.
Key words that the PCO representative, Mark Newman, used were "controls" and "monitors". Controls are what they use to eliminate the pests. These come in forms of powders and pastes, and not as commonly assumed, in sprays. Monitors are set out by PCO in order to accurately address the pest problem. These include such devices as pieces of paper with glue and scented baits used to discover what insects are causing a problem, and the frequency of their occurrence. These monitors are placed in perimeter areas where the common passerby would not notice them. Where the most human traffic exists, the fewest pests exist, and these monitors are placed accordingly. They are put in cafeterias, near sinks or other moisture areas, and where any food spillage may occur.
The areas posing the most problems are the food services locations. Central storage and central preparation areas usually distribute the food throughout the campus. Cockroaches travel easily with this distribution and can pose great sanitation risks. As well, in the fall, mice enter the buildings seeking warmth and generally attracted to areas with a constant food supply.
PCO monitors the following areas on campus: the bookstore, all food service areas including the Villages, the Davis Center, South Campus Hall, Campus Center, Fed Hall, the Grad House, and the residences of Minota Hagey. Interestingly, the library is not tendered to PCO, and since PCO has a monopoly on all pest control contracts at the University of Waterloo, it is assumed that the libraries are not monitored at all.
PCO is regulated by the Ministry of the Environment in all areas of their functioning. Although PCO may apply "controls" to all these indoor areas as well as minor amounts of outdoor areas, it is not their obligation to inform students or faculty of their procedures or applications. PCO is not required to post warnings of any health threats posed by the use of their chemicals. We are unsure at this point of who exactly does have this crucial obligation of education.
PCO claims that all chemicals used on campus are of a kind which decompose quickly--none linger longer than one month. PCO was frustratingly vague regarding the specific types of controls used on campus. Some chemicals which Mr. Newman suggested that may be used include: Diazian (a multi-purpose insecticide, used in doses varying from 0.5 - 1%) or Pyrethrins, which are natural insecticides made from Orchids in Africa. Pyrethrins are primarily used to flush areas and do not last for very long. For ant problems, "Ficam Plus" and "Ficam D" can be used.
PCO claims that it is currently investigating alternative compounds which leave little environmental effects. Boric Acid is a natural compound which enters an insect's system and shuts it down. Again, a more extensive use of pyrethrins is being looked into. Diatomecious Earth is a natural compound which lasts forever. It works by slitting the bellies of insects, causing them to dry out and die. This is recently being used more in the actual construction of buildings to prevent pest problems from starting.
Utilizing the "Integrational" approach, PCO offers advice to the campus to help prevent further pest problems. In food preparation areas, stainless steel surfaces are encouraged versus wood which is porous and can crack, thereby potentially harbouring food particles. Food preparation area are also encouraged to eliminate excess moisture and clean up all drain problems. Clean-up protocols have also been uniformly created to ensure standardized procedures.
In garbage areas, standardized clean-up procedures (i.e. hosing down) have been put in place to prevent rodent appearances. Composts have also been addressed to help avoid unwanted squirrel, skunk and rodent penetration. Wood and plastic composts are discouraged but instead wire mesh is promoted due to its impenetrable nature. Composts have also been removed from immediate placement near buildings.
PCO's procedures on campus are supposed to be controlled through the purchasing department. Their services and any applications are to be fully reported to both the purchasing department and to the food services department.
According to Mark Newman, the issue of pest control is a difficult one to address due the unwillingness of the University to convey any problems to students. He argues that the University is a business selling a service and therefore has a vested interest in the appearances presented to their customers--mainly, the students.
After receiving more specific information on the chemicals being applied on campus, we plan to research the nature of these chemicals in order to determine their possible harmful effects. This information may be found through library research, through further discussions with our contact people, and through information supplied by the chemical suppliers that produce the chemicals.
PCO also would not discuss in detail the actual pest situation on campus. We hope to obtain more specific information on the types of pests that are problematic by speaking to representatives from the food services department and the libraries who would be more in touch with the actual pests. We also plan to push PCO further for this type of information.
We have also been unable to find out who is responsible for posting warnings to all people who could be exposed to the harmful chemicals involved. PCO has stated that this is not included in their mandate. We plan to contact Brenda McFadyn, the regional Public Health Inspector responsible for the university, in hope that she would have this information.