School Cleaning Supplies Emit Toxic Fumes Into Classroom Air

Friday, January 01, 2010 by: E. Huff, staff writer
Tags: cleaning supplies, schools, health news

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(NaturalNews) A report conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that in 13 different California school districts, maintenance crews are using cleaning supplies that emit more than 450 different toxins into the air, many of which trigger asthma and lead to cancer.

The districts were chosen carefully and included ones from different regions of all different sizes. While some have begun implementing new cleaning protocols and pilot programs for testing safer cleaning supplies, data reveals that many toxic substances are still being used.

Formaldehyde, styrene, and four other toxic substances were found in school cleaning supplies that all contribute to asthma, These and nine others also found in the cleaners are known to cause cancer. The use of these products is likely correlated to the 28 percent increase in childhood cancer between 1974 and 1998.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 10 percent of children in the United States today have asthma, up from 3.6 percent in 1980. More than 15 percent of California children are expected to develop asthma at some point during their childhood.

Over $40 million dollars in state funds were lost in 2001 alone in California due to preventable asthma-related absences. Roughly 136,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 missed at least one day of school a month that year due to exacerbated asthma symptoms.

If school cleaning supplies are not enough, EWG is testing many popular home cleaning products and found similar and even worse results. Comet disinfectant powder was shown to emit 146 different air contaminants when used properly. Seven of these pollutants are already recognized by the state of California to cause cancer and/or reproductive harm.

When compared to products that were "certified green," tests revealed that the green products released less than 20 percent of the pollution released by their conventional counterparts. Some of the "green" products contained a few of the same toxic chemicals as the conventional ones, however by and large they performed far better.

Based on its findings, EWG is urging the California state legislature to adopt the Clean and Healthy Schools Act which would require public schools to use certified green cleaning products if it could be accomplished for the same cost. Several districts have already made the switch to greener alternatives without increasing their cleaning supply costs.

Advocates hope that families will also consider switching to greener cleaning supplies in order to reduce toxic exposure at home.

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