Have you ever wondered why so many school districts throughout North America have switched from using traditional cleaning chemicals to green cleaning in their schools? The reasons for green cleaning in schools are many but it typically comes down to two things: protecting health and improving student performance.
Several reports have been published over the past decade, all indicating that environmental conditions such as airflow, lighting, ventilation and the overall cleanliness of schools, as well as the types of chemicals used to clean and maintain schools, all influence a student’s health, performance and achievement. These studies focused more specifically on test scores in several categories—math, reading skills, comprehension, and vocabulary. They found that test scores invariably are lower among students in poorly cleaned and maintained buildings and where traditional cleaning chemicals are used, but scores are improved in clean and well maintained schools where more environmentally responsible cleaning chemicals and products are employed.
For instance, two studies conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina found that when more thorough cleaning methods were implemented, the following environmental results were obtained:
- Airborne dust declined 52%.
- Total volatile organic compounds declined 49%.
- Total bacteria declined 40%.
- Total fungi declined 61%.
And when these cleaning improvements were implemented, the following resulted:
- Passing math scores on standardized tests increased 51%.
- Passing reading scores on standardized tests increased 27%.
- Attendance increased 4.5%.
These researchers concluded that the improved indoor environment positively affected teacher and student morale, attendance, and retention, which improved teachers’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn.
Well, this explains why effective cleaning is so important in schools, but where does green cleaning in schools come in? Similar studies also report that the type of cleaning chemicals used also affect student performance. We now know that many traditional cleaning products can be harmful to people and the environment. Specifically, in the indoor environment of a school, these traditional cleaning products can affect the health and well-being of students and their performance.
Some cleaners are made using ingredients and solvents that are known to be harmful if inhaled or ingested. These products are often applied by using a trigger spray or aerosol, creating a fine mist or vapors, which can mar indoor air quality in the area where used. Application of these cleaning products may cause respiratory irritation and, with repeated exposure, possible asthma attacks and other breathing disorders that can effect children.
Intensifying the problem, these vapors can enter HVAC systems, which will spread the fumes throughout the school, effecting both students and staff. Many researchers have concluded that the use of these traditional cleaning chemicals is one of the reasons childhood asthma has increased 160 percent in the past two decades in some school districts around the country.
A green cleaner contains fewer ingredients and those ingredients are safer to people and the surrounding environment. Additionally, applying cleaners directly onto wipe cloths or using foam cleaners will reduce or eliminate the possibility of vapors becoming airborne. This is an example of how green cleaning in schools often involve changing a cleaning method as well as the cleaning chemicals used.
This is why there is more of an emphasis on proper cleaning and green cleaning in schools. Along with more effective cleaning, green cleaning in schools help reduce the negative impacts of cleaning on health and the environment which invariably translates into improved learning and improved student performance.
Betco® is an industry leader in helping building owners, managers, and cleaning professionals keep facilities clean, healthy, and more environmentally responsible.