Green Cleaning - Cleaning Products
Keeping public facilities clean typically requires a wide variety of products, including detergents, scouring pastes, floor strippers and sealers, bleaching agents, sanitizers and disinfectants. But besides their cleaning power, many of these products contain toxic chemicals that pollute the environment during their manufacture, contaminate indoor air when used, and degrade the environment after disposal.
Human health hazards linked to cleaning chemicals vary from acute effects, such as skin or eye irritation, nausea, respiratory problems (including triggering of asthma attacks), to long-term, chronic effects including endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, birth defects and cancer.
Fortunately a new generation of "green" cleaning products has been developed which are safe for people and the environment, cost-competitive, and effective at keeping municipal and institutional buildings clean.
Facilities managers and procurement personnel should be aware that the term "green" has no legal definition. Look for products which provide full disclosure of ingredients (preferably bio-based) and which are certified by a reputable non-profit third-party certification organization.
Green Seal is an independent, non-profit organization which has developed standards for many green products and services, including institutional cleaning products. Their GS-37 standard was developed in cooperation with stakeholders and manufacturers. A revision of this standard is currently being developed.
Eco-Logo is Canada's certification program for green products used in commercial buildings. It is the only North American standard accredited by the Global Ecolabeling Network as meeting the international ISO 14024 standard for environmental labels.
The EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) Program takes a wider view of the environmental and health impacts of products, and focuses on industries that combine chemical risk reduction and improvements in energy efficiency with a strong motivation for lasting, positive change.