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Green Cleaning Products: Better for Kids, Better for Everyone

Green Cleaning Products
Green cleaning products are not only healthier for the planet, but they're healthier for everyone.

On the morning of January 18, 2008, the Chicago Fire Department responded to an emergency call at Southwood Junior High School. A janitor had spilled a container of bleach while he was cleaning a bathroom. The bleach mixed with other cleaning chemicals in the janitorial supplies, releasing toxic, pungent-smelling fumes that spread throughout the school.

Students and teachers complained of headaches, nausea, vomiting, and trouble breathing. Fire officials evacuated the school and sent students home for the rest of the day as a safety precaution. 24 students and 2 teachers were treated at a local hospital for exposure to the chemical fumes. (source: The Chicago Tribune, “Cleaning Chemicals Sicken 26 at School” )

Children generally rely on the adults who care for their environment to be sure it is as safe as possible. It is interesting that school is one of the most common places where children and adolescents encounter hazardous chemicals - often in the way of cleaning products found in the janitorial supplies. Children aren’t the only ones at risk. Each year, 6 percent of professional janitors are injured by the chemicals in the cleaning products they use on the job.

Certain ingredients in cleaning products present hazards to exposed populations (e.g., skin and eye irritation in workers) or toxicity to aquatic species in waters receiving inadequately treated wastes. 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.

If that isn’t enough to make you seek alternatives, children and adolescents, up to approximately age 20, are more susceptible than adults to potential health risks from chemicals and environmental hazards. Hazardous chemicals can interrupt or alter the normal development of a child’s body, leading to lasting damage. Since children are smaller than adults, similar levels of exposure to toxic chemicals will have a greater effect on children compared to adults.

There are options to reduce these risks. Green cleaning methods strive to maintain high levels of hygiene without introducing toxic substances to our bodies and our environment, or producing unnecessary amounts of landfill-bound waste.

Green janitorial cleaning supplies options are so readily available that schools and other commercial facilities really have no excuse for continuing to use the hazardous methods. Everything from the cleaners to disinfectants to floor strippers to floor finishing products are available with environmental responsibility in mind.

Smart janitorial product selection begins with environmental responsibility. If you have any questions, Jet Uniform and Supply representatives are always available to help.