The EcoLogo Program and Green Seal, which identify and promote products and services that are more environmentally responsible-have developed new, identical audit criteria for hand soap.

The move allows companies with environmentally preferable products to undergo one audit and receive both certifications.

"This new standard builds on and replaces the previous EcoLogo CCD 104 standard for industrial cleaners created in 1997," says Linda Chipperfield, director of marketing for Green Seal. "And it includes criteria for all industrial and institutional hand cleaner products."

According to Chipperfield, hand cleaners are those products designed to remove organic and inorganic soil from skin.

Industrial hand cleaners are usually found in garages such as auto manufacturing and repair facilities, factories, print shops, and similar industrial settings.

Institutional hand cleaners are most often found in the public washrooms of airports, restaurants, retail stores, educational facilities, and office buildings.

However, Chipperfield says that the new standards do not apply to hand cleaners used in households, food preparation operations, or medical facilities, nor do they cover anti-bacterial hand cleaners, disinfectants, or hand sanitizers.

Why Hand Cleaners?
"Conventional hand cleaners may contain unnecessary antimicrobial ingredients, be wastefully packaged, negatively impact indoor air quality, and/or contain ingredients that irritate the skin," says Stewart Fast, a researcher in EcoLogo's Science and Certification Group. "And when their active ingredients are washed down drains, they can negatively affect water ways and aquatic ecosystems."

According to Fast, based on these criteria, EcoLogo and Green Seal will award certification to hand cleaners that:

• Perform as well or better than conventional hand cleaners
• Are biodegradable and have limited toxicity to aquatic life ,
• Are packaged in recyclable packaging, ideally incorporating recycled content
• Have eliminated ingredients considered likely to negatively impact health and the environment

"Certification under the new standards indicates reduced impact of all of these variables and their effect on the health of the individual user and the environment," says Fast.

"These standards are fully up to date and give manufacturers the opportunity to expand their Green product line," says Environmental Choice Program VP, Kevin Gallagher,. "They also allow facility managers and cleaning professionals to incorporate them into their Green cleaning programs, positively impacting health and the environment."