Green Cleaning Products
Keeping public facilities clean requires a wide variety of products, many of which contain toxic petroleum-based 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 certifying organization.
Fairport, NY is dedicated to cleaning and maintaining village facilities with products that are free from known or suspected toxins. Read their Sustainability Plan.
Bedford, NY adopted a comprehensive Green Purchasing Policy and thoroughly evaluated green cleaning products in its buildings for efficacy and cost.
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.
The USDA volunteer labeling of Bio-Preferred products allows government purchasers to easily ascertain what products are environmentally preferable, including institutional cleaning products.
For day-care centers, recreational areas and other places where children spend time, Grassroots Environmental Education has developed the ChildSafe Product List for products that are completely safe for use around children.
New York University’s Green Cleaning Policies and Procedures can easily be adapted to town and village municipal buildings
The EPA's Design for the Environment Program takes a wider view of the environmental and health impacts of products, focusing on industries that combine chemical risk reduction and improvements in energy efficiency with a strong motivation for lasting, positive impact.
 Nazaroff, W. W., & Weschler, C. J. (2004). Cleaning products and air fresheners: Exposure to primary and secondary air pollutants. Atmospheric Environment, 38(18), 2841-2865.
 Bernstein, J. A., et al. (2008). The health effects of nonindustrial indoor air pollution. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 121(3), 585-591.
 Haigh, N., & Hoffman, A. J. (2011). Hybrid Organizations: The Next Chapter in Sustainable Business. SSRN Electronic Journal.
 Kapur, A., et al. (2012). Comparative life cycle assessments of conventional and Green Seal-compliant industrial and institutional cleaning products. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 17(4), 377-387.