Many cleaning products and processes deliver the perception of “cleaning” but, in an ironic twist, can actually pollute the indoor air we breathe. In schools, where germs and dirt are a particular concern, we try to protect the health and well-being of kids by offering a clean environment. However, many schools are using products and processes that are putting harmful chemicals into the air that kids breathe day in and day out.
UL is a sponsor of the Green Clean Schools Campaign, a movement whose mission is to “ensure that all children have access to healthy school environments where they can learn and thrive.” Part of that healthy school environment means good IAQ.
Unfortunately, due to limited budgets, multiple priorities and aging school buildings, many have poor IAQ, which is hurting student productivity. According to the CDC, 8.6% of children under the age of 18 in the United States has asthma. With asthma reaching epidemic proportions, and an estimated 10.5 million school days lost each year due to asthma, this problem alone warrants addressing IAQ in schools.
Education and communication are critical to championing good IAQ in schools. In many cases, parents, administrators, staff and students are unaware of how their everyday activities may be negatively impacting indoor air quality. From simple things like ensuring that cleaning is done exclusively with approved, low-emitting cleaners, to reporting water damage in restrooms or other areas, to scheduling work like painting or heavy cleanings during school holidays, everyone can contribute. Simply making all stakeholders aware of and mindful of the problem can make a big difference.
The use of GREENGUARD Certified low-emitting cleaning products can greatly reduce the level of chemicals in the indoor air in our schools. With hundreds of GREENGUARD Certified low-emitting cleaning products listed on the UL Sustainable Product Guide, school administrators are sure to find cleaning products that meet their cleaning needs and budget.
Other steps may include training staff on the optimal cleaning methods, auditing the school grounds to identify potential pollutant sources such as kitchens, copy rooms and storage rooms. Adjustments can be made to ventilate these areas directly outdoors or to alter the schedule when these activities are performed to minimize exposure during peak occupancy.
As a part of IAQ Awareness Month, take just one small step to improve IAQ in your school. Do it for the health and safety of our kids. For more ideas on how to get started, visit Green Clean Schools.