Online Program

Developing strategies for informed substitution of toxic chemicals in cleaning products

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dorothy Wigmore, M.S., Occupational health/green chemistry specialist, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Larry Stoffman, LDS Health and Safety Resources Ltd., Vancouver, BC, Canada
Beverley Thorpe, Clean Production Action, Toronto, ON, Canada
Cleaning products – their toxic ingredients and their effects – are increasingly a topic of concern in consumer and occupational health circles. “Green” options are often touted as the solution. But what’s toxic? What kind of harm matters? Does “green” really account for important aspects of worker health? How can you find less toxic and effective alternatives? What do you do when something hasn’t been tested? A one-year project is connecting these dots for a public sector union and those responsible for providing cleaning services in the buildings where its members work. We will evaluate the experiences of obtaining and analyzing product data sheets and demonstrate how we evaluated specific screening tools (e.g., the GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals List Translator, the worker-focused chemical information database ChemHAT, and USEPA’s Design for Environment/DfE Safer Chemicals Ingredient List/SCIL). We will present the final version of a toolkit to help users identify toxic ingredients in cleaning products and use informed substitution principles and on-line screening tools to find replacement ingredients, products, or processes. The kit is aimed at worker activists, joint health and safety committee members, and procurement/purchasing staff, reflecting the project partners. The multi-media format (including on-line materials and links, and fridge magnets) will provide practical information about how to screen, identify and substitute less toxic chemicals in cleaning products, lay out best practices for procurement activities, and provide links to on-line tools and other resources.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Define informed substitution. Name several tools that permit informed substitution of cleaning product chemicals. Compare a practical example with other experiences.

Keyword(s): Workplace, Chemical Exposures & Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am one of the three people working on this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.