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Many child care providers recognize that responsible cleaning practices are the key to controlling the spread of germs and maintaining a safe, hygienic environment. But, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is just as important to know when cleaning is good enough and when sanitization or disinfection — which may involve harsher chemicals — is needed.

Because of the increasing number of state requirements encouraging green cleaning in early learning environments and the availability of green cleaning products, it is important for child care providers to know how to identify and use these products properly and make the right choices for the children in their care, the article said.

For instance, green cleaning products are less toxic and potentially less dangerous for children with asthma, the most common chronic disease among children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Controlling exposure to dust, pollen and other irritants could prevent two-thirds of asthma cases in elementary school children, based on a report from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The need for school-focused education about the purpose and requirements for green cleaning was identified as critical by The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. The organization stressed not just training but broader awareness of green cleaning.

The EPA website offers a number of links to information on the potential dangers of cleaning products and the availability of safer alternatives in a childcare setting. A Toolkit for Early Care and Education, for example, includes information on green cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting.