Green cleaning services are a vital aspect of healthy schools and learning environments.
Green Cleaning Services for Schools and Educational Institutions
Green cleaning eliminates the use of harmful toxic chemicals in schools that transfer into the local food, air, and water supply.
Toxic chemicals used to clean classrooms have an adverse impact on student and teacher health, contributing to excessive absenteeism for both groups.
Chemical degreasers and sanitizers used in cafeteria kitchens and dining areas can transfer to the food, causing severe damage after long-term exposure, or immediate reactions in sensitive groups, especially young children with compromised immune systems.
All of these old practices have repeatedly been shown to adversely affect cognitive function, as well as student and teacher performance.
Conventional Cleaning Practices are Killing Your Students
Cleaning chemicals commonly used in public schools are outdated, dangerous and, for everyone’s safety, should be banned from use.
However, the canary in the coal mine is not the faculty or the students–it’s the custodial staff.
According to information published by the American Federation of Teachers – Paraprofessional and School Related Personnel;
- Six out of every 100 custodians have a lost-time injury every year due to chemical exposure.
- Forty percent of the injuries involve eye irritation or burns.
- Thirty- six include skin irritation or burns, and twelve percent involve breathing chemical fumes.
- Medical costs average $375.00 per incident while lost time for the worker is estimated at $240.00 per incident.
Cleaning Chemicals Commonly Used in Classrooms
A disturbing list of chemicals used in cleaning products at our schools has been tied to cancer, asthma, and accidental death.
- Acid Toilet Bowl Cleaner – Typically contains Hydrochloric Acid which can cause blindness and is corrosive to the eyes and skin.
- Metal Cleaner – Often contains Perchloroethylene which can cause cancer, as well as damages the liver and kidneys.
- Carpet Spotter – Also contains Perchloroethylene with same side effects as metal cleaners.
- General Purpose Cleaner – Commonly contains Butoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, and Ethanolamine; flammable and poisonous chemicals that are corrosive to eyes and skin.
- Floor Finish Stripper – Contains the same chemicals as general purpose cleaners with identical side-effects.
- Baseboard Stripper – Also containing the same chemicals as general purpose cleaners with the same side-effects.
- Graffiti Remover – Commonly contains Methylene Chloride or Perchloroethylene which causes cancer as well as accidental asphyxiation in poorly ventilated rooms.
- Glass Cleaner – Also contains Butoxyethanol, a flammable poison.
- Disinfectant – Typically includes Bleach, Phenol, Quats, or Hydrogen Peroxide; corrosive poisons that can harm skin and the eyes.
For More Information:
- The Right to Know – School Custodial Maintenance Workers
Illness, Absenteeism, and School Performance
Student and teacher illness have a clear influence on absenteeism which, in turn, hurts performance.
The spread of infectious disease in public schools is rampant.
According to It’s A Snap;
- Nearly 22 million school days are lost annually due to the common cold.
- More than two-thirds (32 million) of school-aged children in the United States missed school in the past 12 months due to illness or injury.
- 52.2 million cases of the common cold affect Americans under age 17 each year.
They go on to underscore the financial costs, reporting;
Infectious disease accounts for millions of lost school days and cost the U.S. $120 billion a year.
And, while student absenteeism due to illness is an obvious problem, the issue is much worse with faculty.
Teacher illness costs time and money – not to mention the negative effects that teacher absences may have on student learning.
In fact, teachers can be absent from school more days a year than students.
One study found that teacher illness-related absences averaged 5.3 days a year, in contrast to an average of 4.5 days a year for students.
For More Information:
The Correlation Between Student Absence and Test Scores
Studies have established a direct correlation between student attendance and their test scores.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research;
Student absences have a more significant effect on test scores.
A one-day increase in absences in a given grade in a given school decreases math scores by 0.02 standard deviations.
An individual student’s absence decreases his math score by 0.008 standard deviations.
It declines by an additional 0.008 standard deviations if others in his school and grade miss a day.
According to the American Federation of Teachers;
Nationally, chronic absence in kindergarten was associated with lower academic performance in first grade, with the negative impact twice as likely among students from low-income families.
Achievement gaps increase at all levels.
[sic]…researchers found a strong correlation between sixth-grade attendance and the rate at which students graduated from high school on time .
The Hazards of Food-Prep Sanitation
The proper sterilization of food-prep surfaces and tools is required to reduce the potential of germs and bacteria being transferred to students and making them ill.
However, the type of detergents and cleansers used also pose a health risk if they are not properly rinsed, or allowed to completely dry; leaving a residue or film on the surface that can be transferred to the food, causing severe allergic reactions.
According to Cal/OSHA;
The use of chemicals such as soaps, detergents, and other caustic cleaning solutions may cause skin, nose, and eye irritation, allergic reactions, skin burns, and other negative effects including occupational asthma.
Why Your School Should Switch to Green Cleaning Services
There are multiple reasons your school should switch to green cleaning.
- Lower costs.
- Reduce natural resource waste (water, gas, and electricity).
- Eliminate toxins entered into the environment.
The best reason is for the health and safety and future of the students and faculty who are exposed to the chemicals on a repeated and long-term basis.
In 2014, the California Department of Public Health gathered representatives from multiple districts throughout the state to review the benefits of switching to green cleaning practices.
Our main concerns as the custodians for our schools are cleaning in a manner that protects our staff, custodians, and of course every single one of our students in every single site in our school district.
Switching our sites to green cleaning products just makes good sense.
There is, in my opinion, no reason for a district not to switch to the green cleaning alternatives that are available at this time.
-Glenn Sherman, Livermore Joint Valley Unified School District, California
- The Environmental Working Group – Guide to Healthy Cleaning – Cleaning Supplies and Your Health
- Waxie Sanitary Supply – Surface Cleaning Disinfection for Cold and Flu
Green cleaning affords multiple benefits to schools, ranging from financial to student performance, but the most important benefit is the improvement to the health and safety of the students themselves.
The dangers posed by the chemicals currently used in many California schools present far more hazards than they help to eliminate, and prolonged exposure can lead to cancer and death.
Even the chemicals used for food sterilization can cause health problems, some immediate and serious, if not used properly.
Student absenteeism is an enormous problem in the U.S.; contributing significantly to lower test scores.
Switching to green cleaning practices not only helps to reduce student absenteeism but avoids contributing to the problem, as with current, conventional cleaning methods.
Many school districts throughout California currently enjoy the benefits of green cleaning.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of green cleaning services for your school, contact us today for a free quote!
In Bakersfield CA, call (661) 395-3009
In Fresno CA, call (559) 473-1790