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GREENGUARD's cleaning standard

September 19, 2010
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Cleaning systems and products can significantly contribute to indoor air pollution, which is ranked as one of the nation’s greatest health risks.

Current medical data indicates that more than 60 million Americans suffer from debilitating asthma, allergies, respiratory disease and general illness associated with indoor air pollution.

Chemicals emitted by cleaning products may potentially affect everyone.

However, generally speaking, children, the elderly and those predisposed to immune, respiratory and allergic reactions are the most susceptible to airborne chemical emissions.

Long-term exposure in buildings such as schools, health care settings and residences, may carry greater risk.

Many cleaning products contain chemicals to remove stains, sanitize, disinfect and even neutralize or mask foul odors.
People react to the use of these chemicals in many different ways.

The GREENGUARD certification provides assurance, from an independent third-party, that a cleaning product has been tested to identify potentially harmful chemical emissions and that the levels are within emissions limits selected by GREENGUARD from existing third-party standards.

The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) has developed an indoor air quality standard for cleaning systems and products that is based upon allowable chemical emissions criteria.

The program measures chemical “off-gassing” of the products during recommended use and application, and then compares the measured emission levels against publicly available short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) risk exposure levels.

Consistent with the established third-party standards upon which GEI relies, GREENGUARD assumes that continuing long-term emissions will be equal to the amount of short-term emissions measured within 14 hours of cleaner application.

Only products that meet or fall below the established risk levels can be certified as low-emitting under the GREENGUARD Certification ProgramSM.

GEI’s cleaning product certification is the only program that specifically focuses on measuring chemical emissions and inhalation toxicity.

It is the first to provide consumers with clear information of chemical emission effects of cleaning products on the air they breathe.

It is also important for consumers to know that there are many opinions and attributes that determine whether or not a product is “green,” such as recyclability, re-use, waste minimization, aquatic toxicity and reduction of chemical emissions in indoor environments, all of which affect the environment.

GREENGUARD certification does not assure that a product is “green” in all respects.

However, products that meet GREENGUARD certification are often considered some of the “greenest” in the market and have been demonstrated to meet GREENGUARD’s low chemical emissions criteria.

Those who seek to purchase green products, including facility managers and the general consuming public, will want to look for the GREENGUARD certification to help create a better indoor environment.

Another certification program, offered by Green Seal, offers excellent multi-attribute certification programs for cleaners.

The organization’s GS-37 was recently revised and released for commercial and institutional cleaners and addresses overall human toxicity, aquatic toxicity and other key environmental requirements for the protection of environmental and natural resources.

Inhalation toxicity has been added as an important requirement in this standard, and meeting GREENGUARD Children and Schools criteria is an acceptable option for compliance.

For more information on GREENGUARD certification, visit

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