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Cleaning Around Sensitive Populations

Last updated 5 years ago

This article was originally published by CleanLink

Schools, healthcare facilities and even office buildings house vulnerable occupants that can be adversely affected by harsh chemicals.

By Kassandra Kania

From aggravating allergies to triggering asthma attacks, cleaning products can negatively impact building occupants. Schools, hospitals and assisted living facilities house some of the most vulnerable people when it comes to cleaning chemicals that cause adverse reactions. But even office buildings aren't immune to the ill effects of potent cleaners on pregnant employees, workers undergoing chemotherapy, or people suffering from allergies.

When choosing cleaning products that address the needs of sensitive occupants, first understand who occupies the building, says Vince Fagan, president and owner of Fagan Solutions, a Frankfurt, Ill.-based LEED-certified consulting company.

"Figure out what percentage of those people is vulnerable," he says. "Then focus on those folks, and use the right products to minimize exposure to them."

Green And Beyond

The growing acceptance of green chemicals is a breath of fresh air — literally — for many occupants prone to the health hazards associated with inhaling volatile organic compounds (VOCs). More distributors recommend that businesses switch to green chemicals that are certified by a third party, such as Green Seal or EcoLogo, or a partner of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) program.

Schoolchildren in particular are benefiting from green cleaning programs. Teresa Farmer, sustainability consultant for Kelsan Inc., Knoxville, Tenn., works with several school systems to help customers set up a green cleaning program that focuses on children's health.

"The number of students with asthma is on the rise," she says. "If custodians are using products that have heavy odors, they can trigger asthma attacks in children."

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Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C.



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