Pesticides, chemicals used to kill unwanted insects and other living things (microbes, fungi, and weeds), are commonly used by communities and households. It is known that pesticides are absorbed by the human body and can lead to harmful health effects, especially in children because their bodies are undergoing rapid growth and development. This project is designed to support a public housing community and their residents by adopting an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as their approach to pest control in order to reduce their pesticide exposure. IPM is an alternative to chemical- based pest control that relies on the combination of sanitation, various physical techniques, and, as a last resort, the use of least-toxic pesticides. This proposed study built upon the 3-way collaboration established earlier under the Healthy Public Housing Initiative ( which was a Boston-based, community-centered project designed to engage Boston public housing residents to improve the health and quality of life of residents, as well as building conditions. Earlier studies noted connections between indoor environmental conditions and resident health. The Healthy Public Housing Initiative conducted interventions designed to reduce environmental health hazards -- especially asthma triggers-- and measured the changes in health status of children with asthma after completion of the interventions. In this proposed study, we intend to quantitatively assess residential pesticide exposures in young children living in the Faneuil development, a Boston Housing Authority (BHA) property, before the IPM implementation and to quantify the reduction of pesticide exposure post IPM implementation. The other central component of this collaboration is to evaluate the effectiveness of IPM program in three areas; the reduction of residential pesticide exposure among the residents, the cost of implementing IPM program at BHA, and the feasibility of practicing IPM program by the residents. The outcomes of this project will be widely disseminating to BHA residents by the Committee for Boston Public Housing and will be written into manuscripts for peer- reviewed and public journals. We will also use the outcomes to further improve or widen the current IPM program implementation in order to maximize the benefits and reduce the operation costs.

Public Health Relevance

Families living in Boston Public Housing developments ranked insect infestation, followed by the fear of crime, as their 2nd concern. As a result of infestation problem, the use of pesticide both inside and outside the public housing units is common and excessive. In an effort to reduce residents', particularly children's exposure to pesticides, we plan to evaluate the effectiveness of Integrated Pest Management program conducted by the Boston Public Housing Authority.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-SET-V (01))
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Finn, Symma
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Harvard University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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Lu, Chensheng; Adamkiewicz, Gary; Attfield, Kathleen R et al. (2013) Household pesticide contamination from indoor pest control applications in urban low-income public housing dwellings: a community-based participatory research. Environ Sci Technol 47:2018-25
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