HSC Gathers Industry Leaders
By Nick Bragg, Deputy Editor
Fresh off the heels of its successful 2007 advocacy for legislation requiring green cleaning in Illinois schools, the Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) brought a range of state, national and cleaning industry experts together in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 12 to share resources and partner to protect the health of children.
Hosting the Green Clean Schools National Summit, the HSC was able to bring cleaning industry leaders, labor union representatives, children’s health advocates, educators and environmentalists together under one roof to help jumpstart state-level coalitions that in turn will encourage health-promoting green cleaning school laws across the United States.
“The real value of the summit is in the opportunity to build coalitions among leaders who may otherwise never have a chance to collaborate,” says Mark Bishop, deputy director of the HSC. “The cleaning industry has taken important steps in the past few years just as advocates have begun making progress in individual states. Combining the resources and dedication of these two groups is tremendous.”
At the day-long summit, held at the Service Employees International Union headquarters (SEIU), attendees learned about the HSC’s model legislation for Illinois, analyzed sample materials, discussed responses to common objections against green cleaning in schools and received updates on policy and product development.
The summit also connected local activists and national organizations. The diversity of the group attending the summit, Bishop says, speaks to the common-sense appeal of green cleaning school laws, as well as the broad base of support such laws have generated in recent years.
In 2006, New York became the first state in the nation to require green cleaning in schools, followed by Illinois in 2007. Missouri and Maine both have green cleaning laws for schools, however those laws are guidelines rather than requirements. In 2007 and 2008 at least 17 bills related to green cleaning in schools were introduced in 13 states, including California, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington, according to the HSC.
Several jan/san distributors were in attendance with the mindset of gaining enough knowledge to return to their respective states to help pass green cleaning laws for schools.
“First, Spruce Industries is very active in the New Jersey school arena. A significant portion of our overall business is made up of K-12 and higher educational schools,” he says. “So, any legislation with regards to schools will have an impact on your company. The second reason is that, I believed it was important for the NJSSA to take an active role in helping formulate proper legislation for green cleaning. We have heard some rumblings about some individual manufacturers and distributors trying to push their agenda with regards to green cleaning and schools. As an association made up of many distributors and manufacturers, I felt we were best equipped to give an impartial and unbiased opinion as to how to properly word and structure a green cleaning bill.”
To learn more about getting involved to help pass green legislation, visit the HSC’s Web site at www.greencleanschools.org.
Organizations Receive Accolades
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Design for the Environment (DfE) Program’s Safer Detergent Stewardship Initiative recognized companies as environmental leaders.
Companies can be granted Champion or Partner status. Champion members have demonstrated the use of only safer surfactants in products as well as documented strategies for ensuring that only those ingredients are used. ISSA, Lincolnwood, Ill., Multi-Clean Inc., St. Paul, Minn., Eco Concepts Inc., Miami, and JohnsonDiversey, Sturtevant. ,Wis., earned Champion status.
Partners have committed to using only safer surfactants in their product formulations by a definite date as well as documented strategies that ensures they fulfill that commitment. National Chemical Laboratories Inc., Philadelphia, earned Partner status.
C-diff Rates Greater Than Previous Estimates
In a study conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), Clostridium difficile (C-diff), a life threatening bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions, is infecting more patients than previously estimated.
The study, “The National Prevalence Study of Clostridium difficile in U.S. Healthcare Facilities,” reports that 13 out of every 1,000 outpatients were either infected or colonized with the bacterium. According to the survey, this rate is 6.5 to 20 times greater than previous incidence estimates.
C-diff is frequently associated with previous antibiotic use and is mostly contracted by the elderly and those with recent exposure to hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare institutions. The disease is transmitted by hand contact with items contaminated by feces. Recently, a more infectious and antibiotic-resistant strain has developed, leading to some treatment failures and deaths.
To help reduce the risk of transmission APIC published the, “Guide to the Elimination of Clostridium difficile in Healthcare Settings.” Recommendations include conducting a risk assessment to identify high-risk areas for C-diff within the institution; adherence to Centers for Disease Control hand hygiene guidelines; surveillance programs to outline activities and procedures to identify C-diff cases early; using contact precautions; environmental and equipment cleaning and decontamination; and antimicrobial stewardship programs geared to restrict antibiotics associated with C-diff and unnecessary antimicrobial use.