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Green Cleaning: What is it? Why is it Important?
Harmful chemicals are prevalent not only in general consumer cleaning products but also in foods, cosmetics, home construction, clothing and many industries. By using more ecologically-friendly products, including green cleaning formulations and products, companies and consumers may be able to reduce human health risks by reducing exposure to these and other harmful chemicals.
Toxic ingredients found in common cleaning products used in your facility
Chlorine Bleach can irritate the lungs and eyes and in waterways can become toxic
Ether-type solvents Butyl distillates (found in oven cleaning products)
Sulfuric Acid and Sodium Hydroxide (found in drain cleaning products)
Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) (found in detergents and disinfectants, and are suspected hormone disruptors)
Ammonia (which is poisonous when swallowed, extremely irritating to respiratory passages when inhaled and can burn the skin on contact) Indiscriminate use of antibacterial cleansers containing triclosan may be contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant germs
Butyl cellosolve ethylene glycol monobutyl ether is poisonous when swallowed and a lung-tissue irritant Diethanolamine (DEA) (can combine with nitrosomes to produce carcinogenic nitrosamines that penetrate skin) Fragrances may contain phthalates, chemicals linked to reproductive abnormalities and liver cancer in lab animals and to asthma in children Sodium hydroxide (found in drain, metal and oven cleaners; extremely irritating to eyes, nose and throat and can burn tissues on contact Sodium lauryl sulfate (a common sudsing agent, can penetrate the skin and cause contact dermatitis)
Glass cleaners may contain Isopropyl alcohol which can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and ammonia which can irritate the skin and eyes and cause coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.All-purpose cleaners may contain 2-butoxyethanol which can cause headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness and confusion, in addition to irritating the eyes, nose, throat and mouth.Bathroom cleaners may contain Sodium hypochlorite/chlorine which can severely irritate the skin; may cause eye damage, coughing or shortness of breath.
Green cleaning, in a commercial/industrial setting, can mean a holistic approach to facility cleaning and maintenance that can provide health benefits, improved productivity, reduced liability, cost savings and improved relations. Recent advancements in chemical technology have made it possible to develop cleaning products that are as effective as traditional products, but DO NOT contain the harsh chemicals that that traditional products do.
Some benefits of a well-designed green cleaning program can include:
* Improved productivity and morale of building occupants
* Improved health of building occupants, which helps reduce sick days
* Recognition in the community for reducing resource usage and pollution
* Reduce liability from worker safety issues
A proper green cleaning program should consist of procedures that maximize cleaning results while protecting cleaning workers and facility occupants. Proper training of cleaning staff is also critical to a successful program. Finally, products that have a more environmentally-friendly profile compared to traditional products are necessary. Green cleaning and other products that are considered ecologically-friendly are becoming increasingly available.