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Issue 10
, 2009
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Pesticides in Hospitals

Can Integrated Pest Management become mandatory in hospitals?
Source: Toxics Link Fact Sheet, Date: , 2005

The privatisation of the healthcare sector has witnessed a much greater effort to keep hospital environments clean and germ-free. This is largely done through the use of pesticides and chemical disinfectants.

In most places the use of these chemicals are done by sanitation staff who are not trained about the harmful effect of these chemicals.

pesticide What are pesticides?
Pesticides are poisons designed to kill a variety of weeds, molds, fungi and insects. They are also used as wood preservatives. Pesticides contain active ingredients (chemical compounds designed to kill the target organism) and inert ingredients that could be carcinogenic and toxic.

Pesticides can be adsorbed in the human body through skin, ingestion or inhalation. More serious effects appear to be produced by direct inhalation of pesticide sprays than by absorption or ingestion of toxins.

Health Risks

· Cancers (lung, brain, testicular, lymphoma)                                                   
· Spontaneous abortions
· Genetic damage
· Decreased fertility
· Liver and pancreatic damage
· Neuropathy
· Disturbances to immune systems resulting in asthma and allergies
· Still births
· Decreased sperm counts

Pesticide-use survey of Toxics Link
In a survey of few Delhi hospitals conducted by us a number of disturbing facts came to light.

red crossThe survey revealed that 80 per cent of the hospitals surveyed used chemical pesticides and hired an outside contractor to do the job. These hospitals used pesticides routinely without examining the need to do so. None of the hospitals had any pest management policy .No records were maintained about the type and quantity of pesticide being used in the hospitals. Worse still, most of the hospitals did not know the correct method of pesticide application.

Integrated Pest Management

IPM helps hospitals to prevent and manage pest problems in the least hazardous manner. IPM is focused to prevent pest problems by reducing or eliminating sources of pest food, water and shelter in a hospital and its adjoining grounds by maintaining healthy landscapes.

The first approach to controlling a pest outbreak is improving sanitation, making structural repairs and using physical or mechanical control such as screens, traps and weeders.

Key elements of IPM are:

· Pest prevention
· Monitoring
· Education
· Record keeping
· Least hazardous approach to pest control
· Pesticide –use notification

termiteIPM techniques include:

· Sanitation
· Vacuuming
· Pest-proofing waste disposal
· Structural maintenance
· Mechanical traps