Monday, January 7, 2013

Sensitive Occupants: Best Cleaning Practices

This article was originally published in Contracting Profits

By: John Garrett

Whether cleaning around hospital patients, children, allergy or asthma sufferers, effective cleaning procedures are increasingly important within healthcare facilities, K–12 schools and commercial offices alike.

Consider the following: It is estimated that 180,000 cleaning professionals are injured by the commercial cleaning products they use; respiratory system irritation and burns to eyes and skin make up the majority of these on-the-job injuries; building occupants and visitors commonly complain about odors and respiratory problems associated with cleaning products and processes; some occupants have asthma and other breathing disorders that are sensitive to particles in the air, volatile organic compounds and vapors produced by the cleaning process is being used around them; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) evaporate from cleaning products before, during and after their use, contributing to poor indoor air quality; and millions of dollars are spent annually for medical expenses and lost time wages due to these cleaning product chemical injuries.

With an increase in facility occupant sensitivities, and workplace accidents and injuries, building service contractors (BSCs) and industry professionals have and will continue to trend towards the implementation of green cleaning programs, with the results including lower risks for occupants and cleaner facilities. However, is greener really cleaner?

Oddly enough, traditional cleaning products are often more dangerous than the germs they are designed to kill. Indoor air pollution is as much as 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor pollution, on average, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of all buildings have problems with indoor air pollution, and further that 80 percent of cancers are related to environmental factors like toxins. At least one-third of cleaning products contain chemicals that are known to cause significant damage to occupants and the environment.

Studies demonstrate that chlorine bleach, ammonia and other cleaners release greenhouse gases and toxic vapors, many of which are suspected carcinogens. Hazardous chemicals have been known to remain on surfaces and/or airborne for hours, causing mild to serious symptoms including headaches, fatigue and asthma.

Green cleaning procedures are often quite similar to traditional methods. The differences are more a matter of focus and technique, and often rely upon understanding occupant needs and vulnerabilities, while incorporating the right products to mitigate exposure and unnecessary risk to those occupants.

Read the full article to learn about the best cleaning practices for cleaning sensitive facility occupants. 

1 comment:

  1. Very true. It's essential to shift to green cleaning procedures. Nice post depicting the importance of green cleaning procedures.