One out of three cleaning product ingredients used in schools pose environmental risks and student health problems. Some cleaning ingredients commonly used in schools are linked with neurological disorders, asthma, cancer, and other health problems, and might contribute to lower student test scores. If the 119,000 schools in the United States used safer cleaning products we would help more than 56 million students and teachers avoid these health risks.

On February 14th, The Center for a New American Dream, a non-profit that helps consumers buy wisely to protect human health and the environment, launched a sweepstakes to educate school officials, teachers, facility managers, and parents on why switching to safer cleaning products is essential and offers a $5,000 cash prize to the winning school. Interested schools should sign up for the sweepstakes before March 29, 2006.

To kick-off the sweepstakes Center for a New American Dream held an interactive conference call with more than 250 attendees. The meeting highlighted green cleaning experts, school officials who have successfully made the switch and information on how to buy affordable, safer products from more than 75 manufacturers.

“Schools across the country are already making the switch. In fact, Governor George Pataki of New York mandated that every school in his state start using safer cleaning products. The goal of the sweepstakes is to get others to also make the switch,” says Scot Case, green cleaning expert for the Center for a New American Dream.

The good news is that many safer cleaning products are widely available, can actually save money, and are highly effective. Many of the safer cleaning products that are used to clean school locker rooms, for example, are used to clean hospitals too.

"Our two main concerns, as we explored going green were: do the products work as well as traditional products and what about the additional cost? [The certified products] proved to us that the chemicals work just as well or better than traditional cleaning products and we are not spending any more money to be 'green',” says Michael Rinderknecht, business administrator for the Glen Rock Board of Education in Bergen County, NJ.

Click here for sweepstakes information.

The above article was written courtesy of DesginationGreen, a newsletter distributed by The Ashkin Group, LLC. For more information about The Ashkin Group, visit their Web site.