Grassroots Launches ChildSafe List
The high number of environmentally mediated illnesses in children linked to the exposure to chemical toxins has precipitated an increased interest in green cleaning products for use in schools and other facilities where children spend time.
In early July, Grassroots Environmental Education, a New York-based non-profit organization, introduced its ChildSafe List, a comprehensive online catalog of cleaning products that meet the highest standards for health and safety in educational institutions.
“We’re very concerned about making school environments as safe as possible,” said Patti Wood, the organization’s executive director. “We estimate that about 50 percent of the school population on any given day in a school year are considered environmentally sensitive or vulnerable to chemical exposures.”
The ChildSafe List, available at www.grassrootsinfo.org/cslist, currently includes products from 29 manufacturers and was assembled based on those manufacturer’s confirmations that their cleaning products met or exceeded the recommendations of Grassroots’ ChildSafe Guidelines, a set of criteria which grew out of purchasing recommendations originally published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior.
The ChildSafe Guidelines are the first in the United States to acknowledge the vulnerability of children to environmental toxins, and to set threshold limits for certain chemicals commonly found in commercial cleaning products.
Many chemicals in cleaning products have been associated with an increased incidence of environmentally mediated illnesses, Wood explained. Those include asthma, allergies, certain types of cancer, learning and behavioral disorders, endocrine disruption, chemical sensitivity, and kidney or liver damage.
“When you think about it, the school is the counterpart to a work place,” she said. “Kids and staff go to that school building every single day — same building, same air quality, same classroom — and whatever those exposures are in those schools, they are being exposed very regularly. Our goal is to make those environments as safe as possible.”
A number of products on the ChildSafe List were included in a Grassroots pilot program, “Clean, Green Schools,” conducted this spring in select New York City public schools in cooperation with the New York City Department of Education and the unions representing custodians, teachers and principals.
Wood said all of the products received high marks for efficacy, and will be included in the 2007-2008 purchasing guide for New York City schools, along with a ChildSafe logo identifying the products.
By getting New York City public schools to switch their current cleaning products to ones that meet high standards for health and safety, Grassroots hopes they can get other school districts across the country to jump on board.
Currently, Grassroots is looking for local ChildSafe advocates in every community with focus on reaching parents of students. However, Wood said Grassroots also hopes to call upon manufacturers and distributors to also promote the program.
By providing DVDs that promote the ChildSafe program, Grassroots speaks to leading doctors, groups of people who have received illnesses and are affected by cleaning products, as well as advocates of the program.
Wood said so far manufacturers and distributors are promoting the program through the distribution of the DVD to their customers while also suggesting they use certain products that are included on the ChildSafe list.
In order for products to be considered for the ChildSafe List, Wood said manufacturers must verify and — at times — disclose the product’s ingredients.
“We’re asking if possible, for full disclosure of ingredients because that also is helpful,” she added. “In some cases, manufacturers don’t even know that when they’re adding a fragrance, that they may be adding other chemicals that may have a health impact.”
Distributors are also encouraged to contact the organization for ChildSafe logos to place on their products as long as the manufacturer of that product has proven that the product meets the criteria of the ChildSafe Guidelines.
There is no fee for having products listed on the ChildSafe List or for using the logo in commerce.
Companies interested in having their products listed can contact Grassroots at (516) 883-0887.
Revenues For U.S. Cleaning Services To Rise Through 2011
Driven by the shift away from do-it-yourself cleaning services, particularly in the residential market, revenues for commercial and residential cleaning services in the United States are forecast to gain 5.3 percent per year through 2011 to $62.8 billion, according to a study by The Freedonia Group, Cleveland.
With dual income families not having time to achieve a professionally maintained look for their homes and the average age of the U.S. population expected to continue to increase, many older homeowners are physically unable to maintain their homes. Also, ongoing health and safety concerns are projected to support cleaning services, as employers, building owners and homeowners seek to provide safe and comfortable environments for their occupants.
In 2006, janitorial and maid services accounted for the largest share of revenues, with nearly three-quarters of the total. Through 2011, institutional and office markets will see average gains supported by strong construction spending, establishment growth and an increase in floor space.
Hard surface cleaning services are expected to post solid gains, providing growth opportunities, while floor, fabric, and surface cleaning services will grow slightly, due to the maturity of carpet and upholstery cleaning in the residential market.
Feedback From Carpet Cleaning Professionals
A June 2007 survey questioned carpet cleaning professionals on a variety of issues regarding green carpet cleaning, carpet cleaning equipment, programs that “approve” hot-water extractors, and how they make purchasing selections.
One question asked of the carpet cleaners was if they are aware of the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval (SOA) program, which evaluates the effectiveness and performance of carpet extractors. More than 80 percent of 884 respondents indicated that they are aware of the program. However, approximately 80 percent also said they believe their customers are unaware of the SOA program.
Nearly a quarter of the respondents said that more of their customers are asking if the chemicals and products used to clean their carpets are green. The rest indicated there has been no “new” interest in environmentally preferable products among their customers, or at least they have not noticed it.
Conducted by Chicago-based AlturaSolutions Communications, e-mail invitations were sent to more than 3,000 carpet cleaners.
J. Shipman Award Nominations Open To All
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM), Tempe, Ariz., is now accepting nominations for the 2008 J. Shipman Gold Medal Award.
The award is presented annually to those individuals whose efforts have aided the advancement of the supply management field.
If you wish to nominate someone who has performed distinguished service for the advancement of supply management as an innovator, community leader, mentor and teacher, contact ISM at (800) 888-6276. Nominations are due by Jan. 31, 2008 and nominees do not have to be ISM members.
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