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Custodial Green Initiatives

Cleaning products are necessary for maintaining attractive and healthful conditions in the home and workplace.  In addition to the obvious aesthetic benefits of cleaning, the removal of dust, allergens, and infectious agents is crucial to maintaining a healthful indoor environment.  But cleaning products can present several health and environmental concerns.  They may contain chemicals associated with eye, skin, or respiratory irritation, or other human health issues.  Additionally, the concentrated forms of some commercial cleaning products are classified as hazardous, creating potential handling, storage, and disposal issues for users.  Reducing the human health and environmental concerns is an important incentive for implementing an EPP cleaning products program.  Many of the recommendations in the guide are based on the fundamental pollution prevention principles of reducing the quantity and hazards of materials used.

Why Green Your Cleaning Products?

  • Cleaning products are released to the environment during normal use through evaporation of volatile components and rinsing down the drain of residual product from cleaned surfaces, sponges, etc.  Janitorial staff and others who perform cleaning can be exposed to concentrated cleaning products.  However, proper training and use of a Chemical Management System (a set of formal procedures to ensure proper storage, handling, and use) can greatly minimize or prevent exposure to concentrated cleaning product during handling and use.
  • Certain ingredients in cleaning products can present hazard concerns to exposed populations (e.g., skin and eye irritation in workers) or toxicity to aquatic species in waters receiving inadequately treated wastes (note that standard sewage treatment effectively reduces or removes most cleaning product constituents).  For example, alkylphenol ethoxylates, a common surfactant ingredient in cleaners, have been shown in laboratory studies to function as an "endocrine disrupter," causing adverse reproductive effects of the types seen in wildlife exposed to polluted waters.
  • Ingredients containing phosphorus or nitrogen can contribute to nutrient-loading in water bodies, leading to adverse effects on water quality.  These contributions, however, are typically small compared to other point and non-point sources.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOC) in cleaning products can affect indoor air quality and also contribute to smog formation in outdoor air.

Benefits of Green Cleaning Products

  • Choosing less hazardous products that have positive environmental attributes (e.g., biodegradability, low toxicity, low volatile organic compound (VOC) content, reduced packaging, low life cycle energy use) and taking steps to reduce exposure can minimize harmful impacts to custodial workers and building occupants, improve indoor air quality, and reduce water and ambient air pollution while also ensuring the effectiveness of cleaning in removing biological and other contaminants from the building's interior.
  • Buying cleaners in concentrates with appropriate handling safeguards, and reusable, reduced, or recyclable packaging, reduces packaging waste and transportation energy.
  • Buying less hazardous cleaners may reduce costs when it comes time to properly dispose of any leftover cleaners.

*All of the above information on this page is from EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/epp/pubs/cleaning.htm

 

MCCC’s Green Custodial Products

  • Green Seal Certified tissue and towels made with 100% recycled fiber
  • Green Seal Certified foam hand soap
  • Green Seal Certified super concentrated cleaning chemicals

Click on the following to read more about these products:

Kimberly Clark Green Seal Towels & Tissues
Spartan Sustainable Products
Clean on the Go