Green Cleaning Final Report - DRAFT

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Green Cleaning Final Report - DRAFT

    June 2007

    Environmentally Sensitive Cleaning and

    Maintenance Product

    School Impact Report

    Pursuant to Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005


    The New York State Education and Finance laws were amended in 2005 requiring the procurement and use of environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance (also known as green cleaning) products in all public and nonpublic New York State elementary and secondary schools (Education Law 409-I and Finance Law 163-b). The principal intent of the law was to reduce “…exposures of

    children and school staff to potentially harmful chemicals and substances used in the cleaning and maintenance of schools.” The effective date of this law was September 1, 2006, however the

    law stipulated that schools may continue to exhaust inventories of cleaning and maintenance products purchased prior to the effective date of the law. Guidance materials were disseminated to schools to provide assistance and direction in complying with the new law.

     The following school facilities are covered by this new rule:

    ; Public elementary and secondary schools including city school districts and special act

    school districts

    ; BOCES

    ; Non public elementary schools including Private and parochial schools, charter schools

    and approved private schools for the education of students with disabilities

    In accordance with the law, the following State agencies assisted the Office of General Services (OGS) in developing the guidance materials and specifications, including the Guidelines for green cleaning in schools and a list of approved cleaning and maintenance products: the Education Department (SED); the Department of Health (DOH); the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC); and the Department of Labor (DOL). Additionally, OGS established State

    contracts for schools to purchase such environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products. The law is mandatory and stipulates that schools “shall follow such guidelines, specifications, and sample lists when purchasing cleaning and maintenance products for use in the facilities.”

    The law also required SED to issue a report providing an analysis of the impact of such guidelines and specifications on the purchasing, procurement, and use of environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products by elementary and secondary schools.

Survey Development

    SED developed the New York State Environmentally Sensitive Cleaning and Maintenance Product Use in Schools Impact Survey with assistance from OGS, DOH, DEC and DOL. The survey aimed

    to capture basic implementation and impact data, as well as to capture key information surrounding the performance, cost, and overall availability of environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products. Furthermore, the survey was designed to collect information on whether policies exist which direct faculty, staff, and students not to bring their own cleaning products to school, whether custodial and maintenance staff receive training on the use of the environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products, as well as information on the use of specific products including

    antimicrobials and antibacterials.


Survey Dissemination and Returns

    The target audience for this survey was the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), public school districts, nonpublic schools, and charter schools. The survey was posted on the Education Department’s Office of Facilities Planning web site and notice of the survey was disseminated to public and nonpublic schools across the State via the Superintendents of School Buildings and Grounds Association and the Department’s Office’s of Nonpublic Schools and Charter Schools. The survey was also included in the SED News and Notes publication which is distributed

    to all public and nonpublic school administrators in the state. The notice directed the schools to access the survey electronically on the web. The survey notices were distributed on April 10, 2007 and data was collected until May 4, 2007.

    The following information indicates the numbers of potential respondents and the actual respondents for this impact survey. The survey instructions, survey, and compiled results are included at the end of this report.

    Potential Actual Percent Respondents Respondents Responding

    37 15 41% BOCES

    696 216 31% Public School Districts

    2091 79 4% Nonpublic Schools

     TOTAL 2894 310 11%

    The following summarizes the answers provided by the respondents.

    Not all questions were answered by all respondents.

Summary and General Conclusions

    Based on outreach activities, including seminars and presentations to school community groups, it is evident that the green cleaning topic has been the subject of extensive discussion and debate. As with any new program or requirement, the level of compliance with the initiative across different school districts, and even individual schools within a single school district, varies greatly.

    The main goal of the legislation, to provide environmentally preferable cleaning products for use in schools that are available in the same form, function, and utility, as traditional products has

    largely been achieved. There are numerous products available in each of the eight cleaning categories that were addressed by the Green Cleaning Guidelines. Of those categories, six (Glass Cleaner, Bathroom Cleaner, Carpet Cleaner, General Purpose Cleaner, Vacuum Cleaners, and Hand Soaps), are certified either by Green Seal, Environmental Choice, or the Carpet and Rug


    Institute (CRI) and serve to replace traditional, more toxic products. There is certainly more work to be done, particularly in the area of floor care, where for a variety of reasons, the State to established its own criteria, awaiting more experience with the efficacy of green floor finishes and floor strippers. In addition, the State has funded the revision of a nationally recognized green cleaning products standard, the Green Seal environmental standard for industrial and institutional cleaners, GS-37. The focus of the revised standard will look to address new areas of health and environmental effects, such asthmagens, asthma triggers, endocrine disrupters, mutagens, fragrances, etc. in an effort to protect vulnerable or sensitive populations, such as children. This survey and anecdotal information suggest that green cleaning products are available in the same form, serve the same purpose, and in many cases perform equally or better than traditional products.

    We found that some schools have employed green cleaning strategies long prior to the enactment of the law. There is anecdotal information that those districts and schools that have been most successful appear to be those which fully embrace the concept of using less toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning products in schools, and who actively work with vendors and others to provide appropriate training to custodial and maintenance staff on the proper use of new products. This may also involve changing cleaning practices and techniques.

    Based on the survey results, eleven percent of potential respondents completed the survey. Specifically, 310 surveys were received out of a total of 2,894 potential respondents. More than 30% of public school districts responded, and only 4% of non-public schools did so. The majority (about 84%) of the respondents have not exhausted existing supplies of some product types obtained prior to the September 1, 2006 deadline. About half of those schools (i.e. about 42% of responding schools) still had some cleaning products, and about two-thirds (64%) of schools had not exhausted their floor finishes and strippers. Therefore, the results of the survey may not capture the full impact of the green cleaning bill in New York State schools. Many schools have not yet switched to green cleaning products, particularly for floor finishes and strippers. Further evaluation would be prudent in the future when all schools should have exhausted all non-green cleaning and maintenance product supplies from their inventories.

    The OGS list of approved products received positive feedback in the survey and 83% of responding schools reported accessing the OGS product list for guidance in procuring cleaning products. Those who did not report using the OGS website, generally continue to rely on their regular suppliers or their local BOCES. All fifteen of the BOCES respondents reported using the OGS website.

     About two thirds of respondents reported spending an additional ten percent or more on green cleaning supplies. For all the schools that responded to this question, the overall fiscal impact of procuring green cleaning and maintenance products was an increase of about 10%, even though a few school districts (6) reported an increase of 30% or more. In addition, sixty-five percent of reporting schools believe that green cleaning products perform the same as traditional products. Some schools that are experiencing limited success in their green cleaning programs have indicated that they will continue to try different products until those that meet the cost and performance needs of the school are identified. Schools that have achieved successful green cleaning programs may be able to provide insight on what did and didn't work for them.


    Less than half (38%) of schools reported having a written policy advising school personnel not to bring cleaning products from home. Greater emphasis in this area is needed at the local level to ensure that only green products are used on school property, especially since 47% of respondents indicated that students, faculty, or staff bring private cleaning products to school.

    The use of disinfectant and sanitizer products pose a substantial challenge when developing guidelines for environmentally-preferable cleaning and maintenance. Responses to the questions related to the use of disinfecting wipes, bleach-based products, hand sanitizers, and antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps indicate that more outreach and education is needed. About half of schools responded that they use antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps. These products are not approved as environmentally-preferable and at least some of the sample comments offered to explain why they are being used indicate a misunderstanding of their performance. For example, antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps do not kill germs better when children do not use proper hand washing procedures. They can work better than plain soap if hands are scrubbed for 20 seconds or more, but have not been demonstrated to be more effective at killing bacteria with shorter hand scrubbing times.

    Many of the disinfectant/sanitizer products, such as hand sanitizer lotions or wipes, are not cleaning products. SED and DOH recently developed a fact sheet on the use of hand sanitizers and hand soap products that was distributed to all schools. It contains information on the appropriate use of these products in schools and precautions to consider prior to using them. About one third of respondents reported using hand sanitizers in schools. Comments on hand sanitizers indicate that there is some confusion about products designed to disinfect surfaces like keyboards, telephones and desktops and those designed for use on hands.

    The use of disinfecting wipes and bleach-based products pose particular challenges when trying to identify environmentally-preferable products, and the OGS guidelines have not attempted to do so yet. Nineteen percent of the respondents reported using non-bleach disinfecting wipes as part of their routine cleaning process, while bleach-based products were used by thirty percent of respondents. One respondent reported using non-bleach disinfecting wipes “to assure that no

    peanut oils are transmitted to children with peanut allergies.” Presumably, the wipes are used to clean peanut allergens from tables or desks. A 2004 study that evaluated cleaning peanut butter spread on a tabletop did find that peanut allergen was removed by cleaning with a non-bleach sanitizing wipe. However, the same study found that two household cleaners and plain water were equally effective. Thus, a sanitizer or disinfectant wipe is not needed to clean peanut residues from a table surface. The sanitizing and disinfecting wipes commonly available in the market are made from non-biodegradable fabrics, are distributed in plastic bottles and are for a single use to sanitize or disinfect an unspecified area and then throw away. These characteristics of the wipe products are not environmentally-preferable. When according to the 2004 research study, the use of a wet cloth or paper towel can do the same job as a disinfectant wipe, the disinfectant wipe may not necessarily be environmentally-preferable alternative.


    Food preparation surfaces, equipment and eating utensils that are re-used must be washed, rinsed and sanitized according to local health codes. For most other surfaces, good cleaning practices will usually provide a healthy environment, and routine disinfection or sanitization is not necessary. The indiscriminant use of common disinfectants, such as household bleach, can adversely affect some people and damage the materials that are being treated, particularly if the use instructions are not carefully followed. School personnel using any cleaning or disinfecting/sanitizing product should always read and carefully follow precautions and usage directions.


    ; Schools should continue to transition to the use of OGS approved green cleaning and

    maintenance products as existing inventories of cleaning supplies purchased prior to September 1,

    2006 are depleted.

    ; Schools are encouraged to try different green cleaning and maintenance products until products

    are identified that best meet the needs of the schools. Schools that have successful green

    cleaning programs may be a source of insight on cleaning products and protocols that have been


; OGS and SED are committed to more outreach to encourage schools to select

    environmentally preferable products in compliance with the law. Examples of appropriate

    outreach include encouraging the inclusion of training and education on green cleaning and

    maintenance products in required staff training in schools, and encouraging schools to provide

    information to persons in parental relation on how their child’s school is implementing the green

    cleaning requirements.

    ; Provide teachers, administrators, and custodial and maintenance staff and parents with

    opportunities to provide feedback to the school administration to comment on what products

    are working successfully, and where green products are not performing the required function.

    This information can be used to select alternate products to improve performance or allow

    individuals to advocate for better products to suit a particular need.

    A future survey should be undertaken to track the use of environmentally preferable cleaning and maintenance products once all existing traditional cleaning product reserves have been exhausted, and when additional green products are certified as meeting the requirements of the Guidelines

    and Specifications for the Procurement and Use of Environmentally Sensitive Cleaning and Maintenance Products for all Public and Non Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in New York State.


    New York State

    Environmentally Sensitive Cleaning and Maintenance Product Use in Schools

    Impact Survey Instructions

     Who should complete the survey?

    This survey should be completed by the person who is responsible for the selection of cleaning and maintenance products and the supervision of cleaning and maintenance personnel in public and nonpublic schools.

Why is this survey being conducted?

    New York State Education Law 409-i requires the use of environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance (green) products in all public and nonpublic schools. The law took effect on

    September 1, 2006 and requires the State Education Department to develop an impact analysis report by June 1, 2007.

    The survey has been designed to target the three main items in the legislation: are environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products available in the same form, function, and utility as previously used products.

What should be reported?

    The responses to the survey should encompass all facilities under the public or nonpublic schools jurisdiction. Additional comments or suggestions are welcome at the end of the survey.

How can I learn more about this law and green cleaning?

Please see:

When should I return the survey to the State Education Department?

Please return the completed survey to no later than April 27, 2007.


    New York State

    Environmentally Sensitive Cleaning and Maintenance Product Use in Schools

    Impact Survey

     BOCES, School District, or Nonpublic School Name: ______________________________________________________________________

     BOCES, School District, or Nonpublic BEDS Code: ________________________________________________________________________

     Person Completing This Form: __________________________________ (Name) __________________________________ (Title) __________________________________ (E-Mail)

1) Have you exhausted all supplies of non-green cleaning and maintenance products purchased prior to

    September 1, 2006?


     Yes 51 (16.5)

     No 258 (83.5) Responses %

     glass cleaner 135 (52.3)


     responses 309 (99.7) carpet cleaner 144 (55.8)

     bathroom cleaners 140 (54.3)

    general purpose

     cleaners 144 (55.8)

     hand soaps 144 (55.8)

     floor finish 197 (76.4)

     floor finish strippers 199 (77.1)

    2) Do you access the State Office of General Services (OGS) list of green cleaning products at for guidance in

    purchasing and procuring environmentally sensitive (green) cleaning and maintenance



     Yes 254 (83.3)

     No 51 (16.7)


     responses 305 (98.4)

    3) If you are not using the OGS list of green cleaning products, what source(s) are you using?

    (sample comments)

    ; We are a small school and are currently exhausting our stock of cleaning products

    purchased prior to September 1, 2006.

    ; Existing vendors on NYS contract have been providing samples and pilot programs

    for new green products.


    ; We received a donation of green cleaning products from Ecover.

    ; Catalog offerings from our regular suppliers.

    ; commercial cleaning products from Sanico Supply

    ; We are using industrial cleaners that were previously suggested for schools by the

    Health Department.

    ; I am using my local BOCES and the bidding process that we have in place and the

    vendors that participate in that, some of them have offered green cleaning products.

    ; I also talk to the salespeople to make sure the products I might want to try have the

    proper seal on it.

    4) In general, how do the products listed in the Guidelines compare to the previous products?

    Please check all appropriate boxes.

    Product performance is Product performance is Product performance is Performance better or superior to the previous the same as the previous worse than the the same as previous Total responses product product previous product product

    glass cleaner 15 (5.8) 206 (79.2) 39 (15.0) 221 (85.0) 260 (83.9)

    carpet cleaner 18 (8.9) 159 (78.3) 26 (12.8) 177 (87.2) 203 (65.5)

    bathroom cleaners 19 (7.4) 179 (69.4) 60 (23.3) 198 (76.7) 258 (83.2) general purpose cleaners 25 (9.2) 196 (72.1) 51 (18.8) 221 (81.3) 272 (87.7)

    hand soaps 27 (11.8) 194 (84.7) 8 (3.5) 221 (96.5) 229 (73.9)

    floor finish 10 (4.9) 109 (53.4) 85 (41.7) 119 (58.3) 204 (65.8)

    floor finish strippers 10 (5.3) 94 (50.0) 84 (44.7) 104 (55.3) 188 (60.6)

    vacuum cleaners 32 (16.0) 160 (80.0) 8 (4.0) 192 (96.0) 200 (64.5)

     {Note: Numbers in parentheses are percent of respondents. For “Total responses” column, the percentages are of total respondents to the survey.}

    How do the products compare in relation to product costs and performance. Please check all appropriate boxes.

    A smaller quantity of the A larger quantity of the Green products are less Green products are green product is required green product is required Total responses expensive more expensive to do the same job to do the same job

    glass cleaner 76 (31.3) 43 (17.7) 27 (11.1) 97 (39.9) 243 (78.4)

    carpet cleaner 49 (25.5) 46 (24.0) 12 (6.3) 85 (44.3) 192 (61.9)

    bathroom cleaners 62 (24.8) 69 (27.6) 17 (6.8) 102 (40.8) 250 (80.6) general purpose cleaners 68 (26.9) 73 (28.9) 20 (7.9) 92 (36.4) 253 (81.6)

    hand soaps 61 (29.2) 37 (17.7) 17 (8.1) 94 (45.0) 209 (67.4)

    floor finish 26 (13.3) 44 (22.4) 10 (5.1) 116 (59.2) 196 (63.2)

    floor finish strippers 22 (12.0) 44 (23.9) 7 (3.8) 111 (60.3) 184 (59.4)

    vacuum cleaners 39 (20.6) 16 (8.5) 9 (4.8) 125 (66.1) 189 (61.0)

    {Note: Numbers in parentheses are percent of respondents. For “Total responses” column, the percentages are of total respondents to the survey.}

    {Note: Percentages in this table are estimates because respondents may have responded to both price and quantity.}


    5) Have you been able to find OGS-approved green products to perform all necessary cleaning and maintenance tasks?

     Yes 178 No 117 Total Responses 295

If no, please explain: (sample comments)

    ; All cleaning and maintenance tasks are done with green products. However, when the

    children or teachers need to clean their desks and shelves, we use some non-green

    products as explained in questions 11 & 12 so the children can disinfect their desks and

    tables as needed.

    ; Metal/Stainless Steel polishing cleaning agents I could not locate as Green or

    environmentally preferred.

    ; Lacking drain cleaner, still do not feel comfortable not using disinfectant for bathrooms

    and locker rooms.

    ; When we put our yearly order in this past summer we were not able to find dust mop

    treatment, disinfectants, furniture polish, stainless polish and tile/ porcelain cleaner to

    name a few.

    ; They are not as effective in disinfecting areas. The most effective product in this area is a

    peroxide type product.

    ; Chlorine bleach is required for blood spills and cleaning of the "peanut" allergy tables. ; Unable to find green cleaning products that will remove graffiti/ink etc ; We like to use an acid type bowl cleaner periodically to remove stubborn stains and scale


    ; I have not found a floor finish as of yet that meets our expectation. We have tried several

    and will continue to test products from the list.

    6) What has been the overall fiscal impact of procuring green cleaning and maintenance products? (check one)

     Responses %

Greater than 25% increase in spending 11 (4.0)

    10-25% increase in spending 170 (62.3)

    No change in spending 75 (27.5)

    10-25% decrease in spending 15 (5.5)

    Greater than 25% decrease in spending 2 (0.7)

Total responses 273 (88.1)


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