By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director
When Healthy Schools Campaign began working on green cleaning issues in 2003 we had a simple premise: clean for health, reduce the use of nasty chemicals, and we'll have a healthier learning environment as a result. I must admit that we took what I consider a very logical and acceptable leap of faith. (I mean, it doesn't take much to think that if you choose to not put contaminants in a room, you'll have a room with fewer contaminants in it.)
Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put some science to our premise. The group just came out with a fantastic report that gives us some concrete research documenting the benefits of green cleaning. When you clean a classroom with a "green cleaner," do you end up with fewer toxic chemicals in the room? The answer is a resounding YES.
In short, EWG tested several "green cleaners" as defined by Green Seal or EcoLogo; their testing showed that these products cleaned effectively while polluting the indoor environment significantly less. Actually five times less:
- Green cleaners released a lower overall number of measurable air contaminants. The conventional cleaners analyzed produced three to five times more air contaminants than green general purpose cleaners.
- Green cleaners produced lower levels of one important class of air pollutants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Total VOC levels measured from conventional general purpose cleaners were six times higher than their green counterparts.
- Stopping dirt before it gets into the building (by putting proper mats at doorways, for example)
- Adapting processes to reduce the need for chemicals (microfiber cloths can do wonders if used properly)
- Using innovative technologies that reduce or eliminate chemicals all together (have you heard of the Active Ion or the Tennant Ec-H20?)
Rarely in this world can we say we have a win-win-win situation. This is one of them.