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Your Environment. Your Health.

Green Cleaning: Exposure Characterization and Adoption

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

NIEHS Grant: R21OH009831

Community-Academic Partners
University of Connecticut School of Medicine/Dentistry: Timothy Morse, Ph.D.  
Connecticut Employees Union Independent: www.ceui.org/   
Service Employees International Union: www.seiu.org/   
Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health: http://connecticosh.org/ 
Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut: www.safehealthyct.org/ 

bucket of cleaning products

The federal government has defined "green" products, more accurately called "environmentally preferable" products (EPPs), as products and methods that "have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose".

Traditional cleaning products are associated with both acute and chronic health problems including dermatitis, asthma, and hormonal system (endocrine) disruption. As they work to clean and care for buildings such as schools and offices, custodial workers are exposed to a variety of these chemicals.

The formulation of cleaning products is transforming rapidly as new, environmentally preferable chemical ingredients are taking the place of traditional chemicals. Researchers from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine/Dentistry are collaborating with the Connecticut Employees Union Independent, the Service Employees International Union, the Connecticut Council for Occupational Safety and Health and the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut to improve the acceptance of green cleaning programs among custodians working at state institutions in Connecticut.

The State of Connecticut mandated the use of EPPs in state facilities, presenting an opportunity for researchers to assess actual exposures, body burdens, and incentives and barriers to wider adoption of safer alternatives.

The research partners will:

  • Identify barriers and incentives for implementing green cleaning programs and eliminate language and cultural barriers for janitors that may inhibit implementation or use of green cleaning products.
  • Provide an actual-use characterization of exposures to cleaning products among janitorial workers.
  • Differentiate and compare the exposures from EPPs to those from traditional cleaning products.
  • Identify disorders or adverse health events from the use of traditional cleaning products.

The partnership will ensure proper use of green cleaners and disinfectants, and will help standardize the adoption of green cleaning products among custodians working at various state institutions. An evaluation will determine whether this collaborative process reached its educational and research objectives

The project aims to increase the proper use of 'green cleaning' products among custodians.

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