MOHAMMAD ARIF HUSSAIN, entomologist at Masa Establishment for Pest Extermination, Maintenance and Contracting, emphasises the need to take the IPM approach to effectively control pests in various facilities.
FACILITY services include corrective, preventive and predictive maintenance, as well as capital projects, plant operations, subcontract management, space management assistance, clean room and robotics support.
The discipline of facility management and the role of facility managers, in particular, is evolving to the extent that many managers have to operate at two levels: strategic-tactical and operational.
In the former case, owners need to be informed about the potential impact of their decisions on the provision of space and services. In the latter, it is the role of a facility manager to ensure proper operation of all aspects of a building to create an optimal environment for the occupants to function. This is accomplished by managing some of the following activities:
• Waste removal;
• Occupational health and safety regulations (could be a different organisation depending on type of building, such as a hospital);
• Hazardous material compliance; and
• Building cleanliness: This sub-discipline of facility management includes routine cleaning (restrooms and common areas) as well as more specific emphasis on dust control and hygiene maintenance.
Facilities management maintains, replaces, and repairs the buildings, grounds and utility systems within campuses. This includes managing heating and cooling; custodial services; carpentry and painting; issuance of keys; pest control services; and many other services.
One key aspect of these services is pest control and management, and in this area, integrated pest management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally-sensitive approach that relies on a combination of common sense practices. IPM programmes use current, comprehensive information on the lifecycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventive methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programmes then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first, including highly targeted chemicals, such as pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding. If further monitoring, identification and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would be employed, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is the last resort.
IPM is applicable to all types of agriculture and sites such as residential and commercial structures, lawn and turf areas, and home and community gardens.
Over the past two decades, people have become increasingly aware of and concerned about the use of chemicals and their effects on both human health and the environment. Pesticides – because of their toxicity by definition and the impact of their use on drinking water, air, food production, structures and environment – have become a significant social concern. Traditional methods of pest control usually involve no more than periodic applications of pesticides. The landscaping in urban areas, public parks and gardens, golf courses, and lawns and ornamentals, and pathways have traditionally been managed using chemical pest control intensively thus increasing the risk and probability of pesticide exposures.
For building managers, one pesticide-related issue that is gaining increasing attention is indoor and surrounding air quality. While pesticides are not the only factor associated with these air quality problems, they are often implicated as a contributing element. Even where problems with air quality are not apparent, the use of pesticides is increasingly becoming a contentious and emotional issue with building occupants.
Another issue that has been raised is the impact of pesticides on water quality. The driveways and sidewalks (impermeable surfaces) around the urban landscapes do not have planted buffer zones, which promotes the rapid runoff of pesticides applied to the lawn and landscapes, to stormwater channels, creeks, watersheds and wetlands. Ground water is also vulnerable to leaching of pesticides. As a result, building managers are under increasing pressure to address pesticide concerns, and answerable for pesticide use in their buildings. At the same time, they continue to be responsible for controlling insects and rodents that pose health risks or may damage buildings and goods. Many involved in this issue, ranging from pest control contractors to environmental groups, are putting IPM forward as the best means of balancing the need for pest control, with the concerns pesticides may raise.
The benefits of IPM include:
• Better pest control: Effectively applied, IPM programmes have been shown to provide better results and last longer than traditional pest control.
• A safer and healthier workplace: Both pests and pesticides pose health concerns for building occupants. Pests carry human pathogens and may produce potent human allergens. Building occupants may be exposed to pesticides in the air, or be in direct contact with treated surfaces. IPM is recognised by many experts as the best means to control pests effectively, while using the least amount of pesticide necessary. Since IPM is more effective in reducing the pest infestation than traditional pest control, it usually results in less use of pesticide. However, whether IPM will reduce the amount of pesticide used in a building will largely be determined by what was being done for pest control before an IPM programme was implemented. Most facility managers report substantial reduction in pesticide use with IPM.
• Optimum cost: The impact on cost will largely depend on what initiatives were taken for pest control before an IPM programme was implemented. In many cases, IPM results in similar or lower costs compared to traditional pest control programmes. While in some instances the costs may rise initially when certain aspects of an IPM programme are put into place – such as structural modifications – over time, these costs usually balance out in terms of savings in pest control or other budgets. This apart, the modifications initiated for pest control purposes often have other benefits such as improved work environments, reduced energy costs, and reduced building maintenance.
• Better public and occupant relations: IPM is a proactive method of controlling pest, which demonstrates that the facility manager is environmentally conscientious and is concerned about the health of building occupants.
Masa Establishment for Pest Extermination, Maintenance and Contracting Services, a pioneer in pest control management in Saudi Arabia, has tackled problems related to all types of pests varying from household pests to those that pose a public health hazard.
Masa has an in-depth knowledge of the way insects live as well as the safety measures in controlling insect pests, having successfully treated and saved thousands of factories, dwellings, buildings, museums, antiques, wooden frames and other similar materials made of wood. Its treatment methods are based on 34 years of dedicated service to the public and environment.