Greening Your Cleaning Business

Primary tabs

Greening Your Cleaning Business

tweet me:
Check out what it takes to Green Your Cleaning Business
Friday, June 25, 2010 - 1:00pm

CONTENT: Press Release

 What Are the Health and Safety Effects of Traditional Cleaning Products?

The professional cleaning industry strives to make the indoor environment clean, safe, and hygienic. Unfortunately, harmful side effects on human health and safety are associated with certain cleaning products and practices. For these reasons, environmental considerations should be a large part of janitorial management.

Health impacts from traditional cleaning practices and products affect both product users and building occupants. Janitorial staffs often have direct contact with high concentrations of cleaning chemicals and therefore may suffer serious and direct injury. Occupants might be exposed to lower levels but over longer periods of time (longer hours each day and more days per year).

Both cleaning staff and building occupants can receive either "acute" or "chronic" exposure. Acute exposure means a single large exposure to a toxic substance, which may result in severe health problems or death. Acute exposures usually last no longer than a day, as compared to chronic exposures, which refer to many exposures over an extended period of time or over a significant fraction of a human's lifetime (7 years or more). Chronic exposure can cause long-term serious health effects.

What Are the Environmental Impacts of Traditional Cleaning Products?

Not only do many traditional cleaning products affect human health and safety, but many also contain ingredients that are harmful to the environment. A number of environmental impacts - including effects on fish, birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems can result from these products, depending upon the specific chemical ingredients, manufacturing methods, use, and disposal practices.

Cleaning products can contaminate the environment in many ways, from pouring chemicals and wastewater down the drain and into the local water supply, gas emissions into the air via circulation through the indoor ventilation system, and during the treatment and disposal of chemical wastes. These are known as "downstream" effects, as they happen during or after the use of the products. Many of the same environmental effects are also created "upstream," during the initial development and manufacture of the products in laboratories and factories. Thus, as janitors reduce their use of hazardous products, they can reduce the environmental effects at a number of different stages of the products' life cycle.

Cleaning Products

Because so many different cleaning chemicals exist and because different janitorial crews can use different practices and quantities, it is important to note that hazards are best evaluated on a product-by-product or chemical-by-chemical basis. This type of evaluation provides users with complete information about the product, including the risks of individual ingredients and their combined effect in one product.

Several standard-setting organizations develop guidance to assist in evaluating cleaning products. Environment Canada’s Environmental ChoiceTM Program (ECP) provides consumers with a level of assurance that the product bearing the EcoLogoTM, ECP’s symbol of environmental excellence, meets stringent environmental criteria. The mark also tells the consumer that the manufacturer of the product has been audited by a credible third party.

Janitorial mangers and purchasers should carefully review the ECP’s standards and adapt or expand them to meet local needs and concerns. Green cleaning is still a relatively new concept, and managers who follow the ECP standards will be on the cutting edge of green cleaning and have a head start on standards that will more than likely be mandatory in the future. A product may receive the EcoLogoTM if it is made or offered in a way that:

  • Improves energy efficiency

  • Reduces hazardous by-products

  • Uses recycled materials

  • Is re-usable

  • Provides some other environmental benefit

Environmentally Preferable Attributes of Cleaning Products

Attributes differ for every green cleaning program depending upon a variety of factors, such as local and regional environmental issues; health, safety, or environmental priorities; provincial and local regulations; building characteristics; and availability of alternative products. The following environmental attributes are some examples of those that appear in Green Seal standards and other green janitorial specifications. 

  • Must not be corrosive to skin or inanimate surfaces

  • Must not be a severe skin or eye irritant

  • Must be free of any know human carcinogens, mutagens or teratogens

  • Must not contain any ozone-depleting compounds, greenhouse gases, or substances that contribute to photochemical smog and poor indoor air quality

  • Must not be delivered in single use aerosol cans or cans using ozone depleting propellants

  • Must not contain petroleum-derived or petrochemical blended fragrances

  • Must not contain heavy metals that are toxic to humans, animal/aquatic life or the environment

  • Must not contain petroleum distillates unless no natural alternative is available, and then only if the distillate meets the human safety and environmental profile outlined by the governing regulatory body

  • Must have a pH between 4 and 9 wherever possible

  • Must have a flash point higher that 200°F

  • Should not be combustible below 105°F

  • Must not contain dyes

  • Must not contain chlorine, chlorinated or brominated solvents

  • Must not contain endocrine modifiers, alkyl phenyl ethoxylates, dibutyl phthalate, or heavy metals (e.g. arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, mercury, nickel, selenium)

  • Must not contain more than 0.5% by weight of phosphorous

  • Must not contain compounds that persist or bio-accumulate in human or animal tissue or in the environment

  • Should be readily biodegradable at greater than 90% in thirty days without the need of being run through a municipal effluent treatment process. If not biodegradable due to inorganic content, the ingredient must be chemically inert

  • Must be bio-based (i.e., utilize biological products or renewable, domestic agricultural [plant, animal, or marine] or forestry materials) wherever possible

  • Should be as concentrated as possible to green the supply chain

  • Products should be capable of being dispensed through automatic systems in order to reduce user and environmental contact.

This Information was brought to you by the Green Clean Institute.  The Green Clean Institute trains janitorial company's how to have green cleaning practices and then they certify them as a Green cleaning company once their employees finishing that training courses.  Green Cleaning has become a big issue in today’s commercial and residential cleaning. LEED buildings and government accounts no longer accept loose claims for their contracts.  Many GCI certified firms report successful LEED contracts because of their Green Clean Institute certification.  More and more corporations are including the Green Clause in their RFPs, mandating that all bids must come from Green certified firms.  Frankly, why wait until you lose one job after another until you decide to make your company an authentically Green service? 



Aaron James
Green Clean Institute
Keywords: Green Clean | Green Clean Institute | Green Clean Institute CA | Green Clean Institute Canada | Green Cleaning | Green Cleaning CA | Green Cleaning Canada | Green Products | green certification | green certified

CONTENT: Press Release