When Facility Managers decide to transfer from traditional to green cleaning products and procedures, there may be some reluctance on the part of management staff as well as building tenants as to why this is necessary and how this could benefit them. After all, many times staff and building users believe “everything is fine the way it is, so why change?”
Digging deeper, however, we find many reasons to change and many benefits for building users that come from switching to green cleaning solutions. To help building users understand this, FMs should start by discussing the fragrances, VOCs, and environmental effects associated with many traditional cleaning solutions. Each of these elements provides strong evidence as to why green cleaning is in everyone’s interest.
At one point, a cleaning contractor in Northern California had a client who insisted the cleaning staff use specific cleaning solutions because she liked their fragrance. The fragrance of these cleaning solutions meant “clean” to her. This common perception raised the question, how healthy are fragrances?
According to a study released by the Committee on Science & Technology, as much as 95 percent of the chemicals used to make fragrances in cleaning chemicals are derived from synthetic compounds made from petroleum.
Petroleum-based chemicals have been shown to alter hormones and cause health issues such as cancers, neurological disorders, and weakened immune systems. The can also contribute to learning disabilities, allergies, infertility, and more, according to Richard Pressenger, M.Ed., and Dr. Wayne Sinclair, both board-certified immunologists.
Professional-grade green cleaning products rarely have fragrances and if they do, they are made with ingredients such as these. This means switching to green cleaning products, these concerns have been eliminated.
Most non-green cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Most green cleaning solutions do not. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VOCs are gases that, if inhaled, can have short- or long-term adverse health effects. VOCs can also negatively impact indoor air quality, depending on concentration and other factors.
VOCs have been shown to produce the following health risks:
• Eye, nose, and throat irritation
• Headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea
• Damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system
• Allergic skin reaction
• Breathing problems
• Cognitive issues (impaired thinking)
The Outdoor Environment
Not only can certain traditional cleaning solutions negatively impact the indoor environment, but they can be detrimental to the outside environment as well. Many are made from a myriad of synthetic compounds that we now know can be toxic to air, water sources, plants, animals, and marine life. Green cleaning solutions, by comparison, have a significantly reduced impact on the outdoor environment.
Some building users might not immediately think of the outdoor environment as being affected by the cleaning chemicals used in their facilities. The fact is, what we do inside can directly impact what happens outside. If we want to be able to enjoy the outdoors, we have to make responsible choices when it comes to how we clean.
The bottom line is this:
Green cleaning products are designed to have a reduced impact on people and the environment. They help keep people healthy, and studies going back nearly two decades have found this translates into less absenteeism, enhanced worker productivity, and even improved morale of building users and staff. These outcomes make using green cleaning chemicals important to all of us.”
Ron Segura has over 45 years of experience in all segments of the professional cleaning industry including ten years as Manager of Janitorial Operations for Walt Disney Pictures and Television. To contact him, call 650-315-8933.