Northern States Conservation Center

Providing collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services to collectors and collecting institutions.

Collections Caretaker

Vol.1 No.3 Spring 1998 Integrated Pest Management
Take care to follow pesticide use regulations

by Mary Ballard and Tom Parker

In developing an integrated pest management (IPM) approach for a facility, first consult an entomologist or a licensed pest control operator.

An entomologist can be located through state departments of agriculture or environmental protection. An entomologist who specializes in urban and industrial IPM will identify the exact pest species and offer recom-mendations and alternatives for control. Check these recommendations with a conservator if the ento-mologist is not familiar with museums and how treatments could affect a collection's longevity. Consultants who specialize in IPM for museums, historic houses, libraries, archives and collections have training, field knowledge, technical understanding, and appreciation of the setting. They can offer practical, permanent solutions and recommendations for the prevention of infestations.

For the use of certain pesticides and others in certain concentrations, most states follow the mandates set forth on the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which regulates the professional use of any pesticide application. By law, one person from a pest control company must pass a series of written exams and sometimes oral tests. Certified individuals are legally permitted to supervise and/or apply specific pesticides.

Most chlorinated hydrocarbons are banned in the United States and Europe though some of these chemicals are still found in collections. Until recently, they were widely available in grocery stores. Although they are effective residual pesticides, they have long-lasting chronic toxic effects on people and animals. If you seek the advice of a professional pest control operator, request that an individual certified in structural pest control investigate your situation and make recommenda-tions. He or she should know precisely what pesticide products are legal and effective in your situation and be able to explain the choices. Then it is prudent to get a second opinion from another certified firm. Choose firms that are members of their state trade association and/or the National Pest Control Association. The NPCA is located at: 8100 Oak Street, Dunn Loring, VA 22027; (703) 573-8330; fax: (703) 573-4116.

Even if the choice is an anoxic gas to treat a collection, state laws require that the operator be certified and licensed to fulfill safety and liability obligations. If the operator does not meet this requirement, then a person certified in fumigation must be hired to perform the service. The use of toxic chemical fumigants follows a restricted set of criteria: a specially certified operator is always required, and the chemical fumigant is restricted by law for use on certain materials and in certain situations. Because of these constraints, the number of pest control operators licensed for fumigation in the United States is relatively small.

Pest control operators work closely with fumigant manufacturers to help ensure that Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, U. S. Department of Agriculture and state regulations are followed. Misuse of a fumigant, or a pesticide can lead to the revocation of an operator's license, penalties and criminal liability.


Farm chemicals handbook. 1997. Willoughby, Ohio: Meister Publications. (Available on hard copy, disc, or CD rom.)

Insect control guide. 1997. Willoughby, Ohio: Meister Publications. (Available on hard copy, disc, or CD rom.)

Mallis, Arnold. 1990. Handbook of pest control, 7th ed. Cleveland, Ohio: Franzak and Foster.

Story, Keith. 1985. Approaches to pest management in museums. Washington, D.C.:
Conservation Analytical Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution. Pest Control in Museums: A Status Report . 1980. Association of Systematics Collections.

A Guide to Museum Pest Control. 1988. Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation and the Association of Systematics Collections.

Olkowski, William, et. al. 1991. Common-Sense Pest Control. The Taunton Press.

Mary Ballard, is a textile conservator at the Conservation Analytical Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Thomas Parker is an entomologist and President of Pest Control Services, Inc. in Lansdowne, PA.. He has spent the past 23 years crawling in, under and around buildings, setting up practical IPM programs. This article has been reprinted with slight revisions with permission from the authors and The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) where it first appeared in 1997 as "Laws and Licensing: Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide (FIFRA)" in AIC News, 22 (3): 1-5. AIC owns the copyright of this article.

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© 2002 Northern States Conservation Center

Updated 11 May 2002