3306.0 Greenwashing vs. green products: Science, state policy, and worker impacts

Monday, November 8, 2010: 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Built environments such as schools and other public facilities require healthy indoor environments. This means cleaning and maintaining these places in a manner that promotes healthy indoor air quality, reduces sources of pollutants indoors, and eliminates occupational health risks to custodial workers -- often the lowest paid, least powerful employees. Conventional cleaning products contain a number of hazardous substances that have been associated with work-related asthma in more than 30 studies. Children, who breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults, are often disproportionately impacted by inhaling chemicals in use around them. Cleaning products may also pollute the air and water, as they are sprayed into the air and washed down drains and into sewer or septic systems. A number of states, cities, and public agency purchasers have worked with health and environmental agencies to promote use of environmentally preferable products. They have focused on those products that have been evaluated or certified as better by independent third party certification groups. Despite heavy opposition from manufacturers of conventional hazardous products, eight states now have new laws in place that require the use or encourage the use of green cleaning products in schools or other government facilities; more are pending. Experiences from in states, localities and local K-12 schools will be shared, and questions addressed, including: How do local entities select good products in the face of competing marketing claims and guard against green washing? How can users ensure that the green products are effective? Are 3rd party certifiers comparable to or better than EPA’s Design for the Environment labeling program? This full session teaches participants how to spot false environmental claims and purchase environmentally preferable products with an emphasis on green cleaners.
Session Objectives: 1. Identify ways to distinguish “green washing” from actual green claims, and identity selected certifications and labels that may or may not be ‘green’ and ‘healthy’ 2. Describe multiple factors considered in identifying and certifying green cleaning products a. Understand how credible third-party standards are developed and what they should include to address vulnerable populations b. Become familiar with research on the effectiveness of 3rd party standards 3. Understand environmental and occupational health bases for evaluating green cleaning products and processes 4. Identify adverse outcomes for custodians, other school staff, and children that green cleaning can address 5. Describe new state laws on green cleaning and environmentally preferable purchasing
C. Denise Bowles, IH, MOSHE, CET

Comparison of State Policies
Claire Barnett, MBA

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Environment
Endorsed by: Occupational Health and Safety, Socialist Caucus

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)

See more of: Environment