Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Taking green to a new level: The revised GS-37 Standard

September 19, 2010
Green cleaning products are getting even greener, and healthier. That’s because Green Seal just revised GS-37, its standard for industrial and institutional cleaners, substantially raising the bar on the health impacts of green-certified cleaning products.

The Fourth Edition of GS-37 takes environmental stewardship and the protection of human health — particularly children’s health — to a new, higher level, providing the strongest environmental leadership for cleaning products in North America.

Responding to the latest scientific research on children’s greater susceptibility to chemical exposures, the standard now prohibits all phthalates — not just one but the entire class of chemicals often used as solvents in fragrances added to products or to soften plastics. It tightens restrictions on reproductive toxins and on chemicals that may be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It also increases protection from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gases that contribute to air pollution and global warming, and which have been linked to cancer, central nervous system problems, and headaches, eye, nose and throat irritations.

The new standard will be the first to prohibit asthmagens, a step prompted by widespread concern about the rising rate of asthma and related illnesses among schoolchildren and workers.

GS-37 is being incorporated into Green Schools legislation in a growing number of states, including New York and Illinois, where millions of students will benefit from reduced toxic exposures to cleaning products in classrooms.

The standard covers a wide range of cleaning products, including bathroom, glass, toilet bowl and carpet cleaners, floor cleaners, general-purpose cleaners and carpet spot removers. Reducing the toxic ingredients in such a broad range of products to which American children, workers and custodians are exposed has enormous potential to benefit public health.

It should also provide relief to a planet damaged by runoff from industrial cleaning products containing toxic ingredients, which can seep into waterways and soil, or contribute to air pollution created by toxic emissions generated by their use. The standard also calls for reduced packaging materials and packaging free from chlorinated materials, so that not only the cleaners, but also the containers used to hold them will be better for our health and our planet.

No national cleaning product standard goes further to protect human health and the environment. Manufacturers whose products are certified under the new GS-37 standard will be able to promote them as among the greenest cleaning products on the market.