The Department of Defense (DoD) presently uses approximately one million pounds of pesticide (active ingredient) annually, excluding pesticides used during major deployments, to combat vector-borne diseases and the destruction of food, material supplies, and facility structures caused by pests.

This project is reducing pesticide use and pesticide-related risks in an integrated pest management strategy through “precision targeting” and comparative risk reduction. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology have focused on developing a comparative risk assessment model, which is based on spatial probabilities and incorporates techniques for the monitoring and detection of pests and risks.

Technical Approach

This project is envisioned as a four-year research project consisting of three components: comparative risk assessment, comparative risk reduction when intervention is warranted, and standardized documentation procedures. In FY 1998, this effort focused on two models, one representing deployment scenarios involving vector-borne diseases and a second involving risks associated with terrestrial arthropods. In FY 1999, both models will be finalized for inclusion as "case studies" illustrating the entire process of reducing pesticide use by adequately defining risks associated with no interventions and the reduction in risks using precision targeting strategies with least toxic measures.


Methods and algorithms have been finalized, using standard ArcView™ GIS tools, for conducting comparative risk reductions. These allow the use of a computer program to determine the necessity for, and selection of, an intervention that will optimize pesticide-use, risk, and cost. Protocols have been completed for the integration of typical toxicology and exposure data on biocides (obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) with spatial patterns of land-use and human activity.


Successful execution of this research will provide for the first time, standardized, verifiable, and documentable procedures for achieving comparative risk reductions associated with the broad scope of pests, disease vectors, pesticides, and pesticide-resistant populations in military theaters of operation, as well as on military reservations. Pesticide reduction is projected to be 40-80 percent resulting in both direct and indirect cost savings.

The system assesses risks and provides a spatial illustration displaying levels of risk (contour lines of equal probability) at all locations within the area of interest. Subsequently, proposed interventions, including existing and emerging least-toxic technologies, can be evaluated, selected, and then minimally and precisely applied according to a precision targeting map.