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The education of greening your floors

September 19, 2010
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The JanSan industry is promoting “green” products and services for obvious reasons. Although traditional cleaning products have served us well in the past, newer, more technologically advanced — certified-green — products offer a safer alternative.

Many of these products are just as effective and cost comparative to traditional products. If certified, they are proven to reduce cleaning’s impact on the health of people — cleaning professionals and building occupants — and the environment.

Concerns about traditional cleaning chemicals are very prevalent in the floor care sector because:

  • Floor finishes and strippers are typically some of the harshest chemicals used in cleaning.
  • These products can cause irritations, headaches and burns.
  • The chemicals can cause permanent eye and organ damage.
  • Six out of every 100 cleaners are injured on the job, often due to using harsh floor care chemicals.
  • From 1993 to 1997, 12 percent of work-related injury cases in a handful of states were associated with floor care products.

Selecting environmentally preferable product
More environmentally preferable floor care products are available to JanSan industry professionals.

Facility Service Providers (FSPs) can narrow their searches to select the safest possible floor care products by choosing products that are certified by either Green Seal® or Canada’s Environmental Choice Program™. Established in 1988, the Environmental Choice Program™ is the basis for many other certification programs.

Both Green Seal and Environmental Choice have recently introduced criteria for strippers and finishes. Consequently, manufacturers will soon be submitting products for certification.

In the meantime, FSPs may take these steps:

  • Ensure to get full-ingredient Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and read them very carefully. Compare carcinogens or reproductive toxins to safer alternatives.
  • Select products that do not contain zinc or heavy metals.
  • Look for volatile organic compound (VOC) levels that are less than 7 percent at use dilution.
  • Limit or eliminate where you can APE’s (NPE or OPE), aqueous ammonia, MEA, ethylene glycol monomethyl ether (EGME), ethylene glycol monoethyl ether (EGEE), 2-butoxyethanol.
  • Check that the total phosphorous concentration is less than 0.5 percent.

To review Green Seal’s “Choose Green Report” on floor care products, visit

Mike Sawchuk is vice president and general manager of Enviro-Solutions (, which manufactures green cleaning products.

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