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Improving Air Quality in Your Community

Indoor Air: Green Procurement - Additional Information

This information will help you gain a better understanding of questions consumers, local businesses, and local governments may have about green procurement. The sections below provide more information on this topic.

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What is green procurement?

  • Green procurement attempts to identify and reduce environmental impact and to maximize resource efficiency in making purchasing decisions.
  • Green procurement is also called environmentally preferred purchasing (EPP), affirmative procurement, eco-procurement, and environmentally responsible purchasing.
  • Practicing green procurement takes into consideration not only economic facets such as cost but also environmental considerations such as pollution prevention, life-cycle perspective, and resource efficiency.
  • EPA has developed an extensive Web site related to green procurement.
  • The New England Waste Management Officers' Association (NEWMOA) Exit EPA Disclaimer and Western Region Pollution Prevention Network (WRPPN) Exit EPA Disclaimer have developed topic hubs related to green procurement.

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Why is green procurement important?

  • Emissions from various products, including janitorial supplies, interior paint and other architectural coatings, copiers, furnishings, and carpeting can adversely impact the indoor air quality of office buildings.
  • Practicing green procurement can reduce these air quality impacts and also save companies and governments money.

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What are the health effects that green procurement could reduce?

  • The office environment can often be a source of emissions that impact indoor air quality. These sources can include but are not limited to:
    • Copiers
    • Janitorial products
    • Newly installed carpet
    • Interior paints and other coatings.
    • Learn more about the potential health effects of janitorial products.
  • Emissions may consist of volatile organic compounds (VOC), ozone, particle pollution (also called dust), and styrene.
  • VOC and Ozone
    • VOC is released during the application of interior paints or other coatings, the use of janitorial products, the installation of carpeting, and the use of copiers.
    • Ozone is released during the operation of copiers.
    • The chemicals in VOC can form ground-level ozone which can cause breathing difficulties, especially with those who are young, elderly, or have existing respiratory problems such as asthma.
    • EPA has an extensive Web site devoted to ground-level ozone.
  • Particle Pollution
    • Particle pollution is released when copiers are used.
    • Particle pollution can lodge deep in the lungs and cause respiratory problems, cardiac arrhythmia (heartbeat irregularities), and heart attacks
    • Particle pollution can also impact the young, the elderly, and people with existing conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma.
    • Particle pollution can also contain other harmful pollutants such as heavy metals.
    • EPA has developed an extensive Web site related to particle pollution.
  • Styrene
    • Styrene is present in small quantities in copiers and is emitted during the copying process.
    • Short-term exposure to styrene can result in mucous membrane and eye irritation and gastrointestinal impacts.
    • Long-term exposure to styrene can result in headache, fatigue, weakness, depression, hearing loss, and peripheral neuropathy.
    • EPA's Health Effects Notebook contains more information about the health impacts related to exposure to styrene.

For more information on the toxicity of these pollutants, check out information in EPA's Health Effects Notebook and on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). EPA also has more information available at its Air Toxics Web site.

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How can green procurement be used to reduce indoor air pollution?

  • Copiers
    • When making copier purchase decisions, make sure:
      • The copier uses an organic photoreceptor (if it is not organic, it must not contain arsenic, cadmium, or selenium).
      • The copier does not emit ozone at a concentration in excess of 0.02 mg/m3
      • The copier does not emit particle pollution at a concentration in excess of 0.25 mg/m3.
      • The copier does not emit styrene at a concentration in excess of 0.11 mg/m3.
    • Consider sending as much copying as possible to outside sources.
    • Check out EPA's additional information about practicing green procurement when purchasing copiers.
  • Janitorial Products
    • When making decisions about janitorial products, make an effort to find out which products are friendlier toward the environment. You may discover that the number of janitorial products you actually need may decrease.
    • The Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project has several tools Exit EPA Disclaimer and fact sheets Exit EPA Disclaimer that can be useful and determining how to implement a green procurement program for janitorial supplies.
  • Interior Paint and Other Coatings
    • Use products that have low-VOC content.
    • Determine if you could change your building maintenance practices so that you would use less paint and other coatings. Using less will result in monetary savings.
    • Check out the Web sites for paint and coating manufacturing and painting and coating operations, both of which may be impacted by green procurement.

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What other Web sites may be helpful?

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