TOXICS INFORMATION PROJECT (TIP)
(Lighting the way to Less Toxic Living)
Liberty Goodwin, Director
P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940
Tel. 401-351-9193, E-Mail: TIP@toxicsinfo.org
RESOURCES TO ASSIST SCHOOLS AND
OTHER INSTITUTIONS TO “GO GREEN”
INFORM, INC. provides technical assistance to a wide variety of organizations and institutions in New England, New York and New Jersey who seek to reduce the human health and environmental impact of their cleaning practices. Using Cleaning for Health research, INFORM has been working with government agencies, municipalities, schools, colleges, hospitals, healthcare facilities and the business community to develop and implement environmentally preferable cleaning programs and minimize their purchase of products containing toxic substances. .
The Eighth International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate 1999 – Floor cleaning materials were found to be a cause of occupational asthma. Mendell M, Heath G. Do Indoor Environments in Schools Influence Student Performance? A Review of the Literature. The Eighth International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate 1999.
European Respiratory Journal 2000 – Acute short-term exposure to common cleaning chemicals was found to cause a severe asthmatic attack and adult respiratory distress syndrome in an asthmatic subject. Mapp C, Pozzato V, Pavoni V, Gritti G. Case Study: Severe asthma and ARDS triggered by acute short-term exposure to commonly used cleaning detergents. European Respiratory Journal. 2000; 16(3):570.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2003 - A study of confirmed cases of work-related asthma in four states found that 12% were associated with exposure to cleaning chemicals. 80% of these were new-onset cases and 20% were work-aggravated cases. Rosenman K, Reilly M, Schill D. Cleaning Products and Work-Related Asthma. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 2003;45(5):556-563.
Thorax 2005 - Pre-natal exposure to the use of disinfectants, bleach, carpet cleaner, window cleaner, air fresheners, paints, dry cleaning fluid, aerosols, and pesticides increased the risk that the young child would have persistent wheezing. Scientists determined that the more frequently the chemicals were used, the greater the risk of persistent wheezing, which can be a precursor to asthma. Sherriff A, Farrow A, Golding J, Henderson J. Frequent use of chemical household products is associated with persistent wheezing in pre-school. Thorax. 2005;60:45-49.
15th Annual Congress of the European Respiratory Society 2005 - Asthma and housework: a few home truths. The authors presented the results of a study that linked household sprays and new-onset asthma. 4,200 subjects who cleaned their own homes took part in the study, with 3,500 participants initially asthma free. After nine years, the data showed that the incidence of asthma was greater in participants who used sprays more frequently. "Between 11 and 18% of new asthma cases can be attributed to frequent use of household aerosols." The most hazardous of the sprays used were room sprays, furniture and window sprays. The use of ammonia, bleach or dye solvents were also found to put people at risk for developing asthma. Jaakkola, Maritta, 15th Annual Congress of the European Respiratory Society 2005.
Many cleaning products commonly used in public facilities contain dangerous chemicals that can cause illness and possibly death in those exposed to them. These problems can be avoided by replacing the offending agents with harmless cleaning alternatives. In an effort to communicate this important message, and to empower organizations with ways they can rid the environment of these hazards, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center developed its "Greening the Cleaning®" program. Through "Greening the Cleaning®," experts provide environmentally sound cleaning alternatives and extensive guidance to allow participating facilities to enjoy a seamless transition to a safe, effective cleaning system. The program has been highly successful in all institutions that have participated. All "Greening the Cleaning®" products are tested for safety by the manufacturer and exceed OSHA's requirements and recommendations. The six major goals and objectives of the "Greening the Cleaning®" program are:
The majority of the hazardous cleaning products that produce odors and emit chemicals that contribute to poor indoor air quality and/or can be harmful to the individuals exposed to them are replaced. The program reduces emissions and provides a cleaner, less toxic environment. This improved setting is particularly important in healthcare facilities that have patients who are already in a compromised state of health, and need a contaminant-free environment to promote healing. There is no reason to use toxic cleaning agents in schools, homes, or businesses either because non-toxic environmentally safe ones exist.
Fewer cleaning products are being ordered, and replaced with multipurpose products, while maintaining the highest quality of safety.
The new "Greening the Cleaning®" chemicals are ordered from an environment conscious manufacturer. A dispensing system is also installed to ensure no waste, accidents, or misuse.
Institutions using the "Greening the Cleaning®" program may enjoy cost savings for a variety of reasons. Buying bulk quantities of concentrated cleaning products cuts down on packaging and shipping costs. Education of housekeeping staff enables them to use the products more efficiently, which reduces waste. Also, staff members are no longer subjected to irritating chemicals which may reduce employee sick time and workman’s compensation. Hackensack University Medical Center, which converted to the "Greening the Cleaning®" program in 2001, has yielded a 15% cost savings.
The "Greening the Cleaning®" program encourages facilities to consolidate their supplies in one centralized location to aid in the management of inventory. This practice minimizes the possibility of duplicating supplies. It also eliminates the need to find space to store items that are not needed. Although creating a central storage area may not be feasible in all cases, every effort is made to create one. Smaller containers and spray bottles are kept in the janitorial closets and carts.
A toxin-free cleaning program can only be implemented if those who actually clean the facility understand the importance of their actions and know how to use the new products. For this reason, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology educates all key personnel in the participating facility, from the housekeeping staff to supervisors and top-level management, so they can work together to preserve their environment at no additional cost.