So you hire a commercial cleaning company to keep your office building clean. The floors are shiny, the door handles have been sanitized, toilets are cleaned, dust on desks and equipment has been removed, cubicle walls are cleaned and the garbage is thrown out regularly.
That’s a pretty solid cleaning routine in an office environment. It would be fair for you to believe you have provided a clean and healthy environment for staff and clients… right?
In a first-of-its-kind study, Environmental Defence tested the impact of cleaning products on indoor air quality. In all 14 studied households, levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) went up during cleaning.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases that are emitted into the air from products or processes. Some are harmful by themselves, including some that cause cancer. In addition, they can react with other gases and form other air pollutants after they are in the air.
Watch Out For Products Containing Prohibited Ingredients
Prohibited ingredients in cleaning products include:
- Toxic Air Contaminants
- Great Waters Pollutants of Concern
- Hazardous Air Pollutants
- Global Warming Compounds
- Ozone Depleting Compounds
- Alkylphenol ethoxylates
- Dibutyl phthalates
- Heavy Metals (including arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, copper, chromium, mercury, nickel and zinc)
- Carcinogens as listed by: International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), National Toxicology Program, USA EPA, Occupational Health and Safety Administration
- Carcinogens and Reproductive Toxins as listed in Proposition 65
Health Effects Of VOC’s In Products Commonly Used By Commercial Cleaning Companies
As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Scientifically proven health effects of exposure to VOC’s include:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
- Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
- Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.
Key Signs Or Symptoms Associated With Exposure To VOCs:
- conjunctival irritation
- nose and throat discomfort
- allergic skin reaction
- declines in serum cholinesterase levels
Common Sources of VOCs In An Office / Home Environment:
- paints, paint strippers and other solvents
- wood preservatives
- aerosol sprays
- cleansers and disinfectants
- moth repellents and air fresheners
- stored fuels and automotive products
- hobby supplies
- dry-cleaned clothing
- building materials and furnishings
- office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper
- graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions.
Indoor air quality has always been a key component of effective green cleaning. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a major control point from cleaning and sanitation products.
Studies are now showing that VOCs from cleaning products are also a large contributor to outdoor air pollution.
Make sure your commercial cleaning uses Green Cleaning products and processes.