Green Cleaning

Background

Green Cleaning is defined as cleaning to protect health without harming the environment. Green cleaning is a widely accepted movement that uses procedures and products to make cleaning for the health of building occupants, janitors, and the environment a primary concern.

Some widely used cleaning products have serious adverse effects on the health of building occupants and janitors. Both long term and short term health effects are linked commonly to poor air quality as a result of clean product fumes.

As a result, the State of Connecticut and the University are committed to improving air quality and reducing hazard related to cleaning products, by using "green" cleaning products. These products are characterized by such qualities as biodegradability, low toxicity, low volatile organic compound (VOC) content, reduced packaging, and low life cycle energy use.

Why the need for Green Cleaning?

Source of facts: US EPA

One source of such indoor air pollution can be found in the cleaning products used in the area. These products may produce noxious fumes or leave potent residues behind. Short term health problems caused by exposure to hazardous cleaning products include eye irritation, coughing, chest pain, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. Futhermore, the long-term effects may include liver and kidney failure, birth defects, emphysema, brain damage, and even cancer. Unintentional ingestion of toxic household chemicals in the U.S. cost almost $2.3 billion in health care.

In addition to being harmful to human health, many cleaning products have also proven harmful to the environment. Some of the more potent cleaners contain volatile organic compounds, phenolic compounds, or petroleum solvents and very few are biodegradable. Chemical cleaners produce 30,948 tons of hazardous waste each year and some ingredients of cleaning products are associated with eutrophication of streams and are toxic to aquatic organisms.

Why at the University of Connecticut?

Daily and periodic janitorial cleaning is commonplace at every UConn campus due to the large mass of traffic from the university community. As a result, the University of Connecticut is a large consumer of cleaning products. Therefore, we are working to encourage the use of green cleaners not only to promote clean and safe working conditions but also to reduce the impact on the environment.

At the same time, the University of Connecticut is now required to comply with Governor Rell's Executive Order #14. On April 17, 2006, Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell issued an executive order which declares that all state facilities and workplaces shall "procure and use, whenever practicable, cleaning and/or sanitizing products having properties that minimize potential impacts to human health and the environment, consistent with maintaining clean and sanitary State facilities."

Click here to read the Executive Order

A year and a half after this Executive Order, the Connecticut Legislature passed Public Act 07-100. This act mandates that cleaning products used in State buildings must meet environmental standards set by an approved environmental certification program. These products must seek to minimize their potential harmful impact on human health or the environment.

Click here to read the Public Act

Extra Tools: Environmentally-Friendly Cleaners You Can Make at Home