Green Cleaning - Environmental Attributes Defined
Some ready-to-use cleaning products may contain chemicals that will cause redness or swelling of skin.
Air Pollution Potential:
Products may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which may escape to the atmosphere and react to form smog. Smog and other atmospheric pollutants have been shown to cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, and to cause asthma attacks. Many state and local authorities have restrictions on the use of VOCs.
This attribute does not refer to natural odors that are associated with cleaning agents (e.g., a lemon odor in a citrus-based cleaner); rather, it refers to fragrances that are added to improve odor or mask an offensive odor. Added fragrances have little cleaning value, but they provide aesthetic benefits important to many users. On the other hand, a basic principle of pollution prevention is to avoid unnecessary additives.
This attribute refers to dyes that have been added to a formulation to enhance or change the color of the product. While the addition of these dyes contributes little to the cleaning value of the product, it may be important for safety reasons, such as differentiating among formulations. Again, a basic principle of pollution prevention is to avoid unnecessary additives.
Packaging is a large component of municipal solid waste landfills. A product's packaging can account for a significant portion of the product's contribution to municipal solid waste. EPA's recommended approach to managing solid waste is, first, reduce packaging of products and, second, recycle packaging materials. Paper packaging should be consistent with applicable recovered materials recommendations set forth in the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines.
Minimizes Exposure to Concentrates:
Although packaging a product in concentrated form may result in reduced packaging, it raises the potential that the end users of the product will be exposed to the concentrate, which may place the end user at greater health risk than exposure to the ready-to-use product.
Consider these attributes when deciding which biodegradable cleaners and degreasers to purchase. For more detailed information, see GSA's current catalog for Cleaning Equipment, Accessories, Janitorial Supplies, Cleaning Chemicals and Sorbents (PDF) (pages 4 and 33-36 (36 pp, 840 KB).
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