When it’s time to face off with a rat or cockroach that has invaded your domain, a can of pesticide in your hand can make you feel like a stud, a hero, the last line of defense for you and your family.

But pesticides can harm both the environment and human health.

It’s a lesson Camp Zama schools and youth centers took to heart in September when they adopted the Integrated Pest Management program — a course that preaches preventive measures to reduce the need for toxic pesticides.

IPM incorporates strategies such as sealing doors and windowsills, keeping vegetation out of contact with buildings and changing the locations of outdoor lights to avoid attracting pests to points of entry on a building.

The Army Environmental Command started the program, which is already being used in schools and youth centers on stateside Army installations.

Deputy Commander of U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine Pacific Lt. Col. Sandra Alvey headed up the program in the States before implementing it on Camp Zama.

Alvey says the goal is for the Army to extend the program to all parts of the Pacific Rim and then to Europe.

"It’s economically driven as far as keeping the (Community Youth Services) structures on the facilities side of the house in the best working order that we can while maintaining pest management," Alvey said. "It’s also for the occupational health safety of children and the workers in the workplace."

Thomas Green, president of IPM, visited Camp Zama this week to conduct an inspection on the schools and youth centers that would potentially earn them IPM Star certification.

"It’s a very thorough inspection to make sure not only that pests aren’t present but that those conditions that are pest-friendly are also not present," Green said.

Col. Nancy Vause, commander of USACHPPM Pacific, hopes the addition of IPM at Camp Zama reassures parents that their overseas children are given the same protection from pesticides as those stateside.

"That just makes the parents feel much more comfortable that their children are treated equally," Vause said.

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