According to a press release, air pollution testing conducted for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals that cleaning supplies used in 13 key California school districts can cloud classroom air with more than 450 distinct toxic contaminants, including chemical agents linked to asthma and cancer. EWG released its findings as consumers, again, called on the State legislature to adopt a measure that would encourage school districts across California to use less toxic cleaning supplies.

The 13 school districts included in the study were chosen for their geographic diversity and diversity of size. Several districts have already begun moving to green cleaners, while others have pilot programs underway at various stages.

Most of the 450 chemicals identified have never been assessed for safety; six are identified with increasing the risk asthma, and eleven are known, probable or possible human carcinogens.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at present, nearly 1 in 10 children have asthma in the U.S., up from 7.5 percent in 1996, and just 3.6 percent in 1980. One in six California children will develop asthma at some point during childhood or adolescence. Asthma is a major source of absenteeism in California schools. In 2001, 136,000 children with asthma ages 12-17 missed at least one day of school per month, costing schools $40.8 million in state funds. (Read more here.)

“Classroom cleaners can deliver harmful fumes to millions of school children each day, and parents have no way to know about it,” said Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D., an EWG senior scientist and author of the study. “Cleaning products aren’t required to list ingredients on the label, leaving school systems and everyday consumers without critical information to make the smart choices.”