Good morning, and welcome to Healthy Cleaning
Best Practices for Schools. I’m Lesley Taylor from the California Department of Education.
Our School Facilities and Transportation Services Division is pleased to host presenters from
the California Department of Public Health and the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School
District on this important topic. Special thanks to the California Association of School
Business officials for their role as a promotional partner in this event.
Part of my role here at the CDE is administering U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon
Schools, a national recognition program that honors schools and districts for their work
in going green. Before we begin our presentation, I’ll show you briefly how the healthy cleaning
best practices that are discussed in this webinar tie into to the ED-Green Ribbon Schools
criteria. ED-Green Ribbon Schools is based on demonstrated
achievement in three pillars of sustainability. Today’s webinar focuses on best practices
in Pillar II: improved health and wellness for schools, students, and staff.
Going a little deeper, Element IIA addresses an integrated school environmental health
program, including asthma control. Applicants are asked to describe how the school or district
controls and manages chemicals routinely used in school to minimize studio staff exposure,
and specifically to describe actions the school or district takes to prevent exposure to asthma
triggers in and around school. Element IC addresses an applicant’s green cleaning custodial
program, including cleaning products, services, advanced equipment, and relevant policy.
Because we want as many schools and districts as possible to participate in ED-Green Ribbon
Schools, Superintendent Torlakson announced California Green Ribbon Schools in March 2014.
Our state-level award establishes a scale based on the federal application that recognizes
schools and districts who might not be our federal nominees, but who are doing good work
in the three pillars. State-level recognition begins at fifty-five percent achievement on
the ED-Green Ribbon Schools application. The role of the California Department of Education
is to implement and administer ED-Green Ribbon Schools and California Green Ribbon Schools.
Part of that work is coordinating the selection of private school nominees with the California
Association of Private School Organizations. We provide resources and support to applicants
via our webpage; presentations at regional, state, and national conferences; and direct
technical assistance like this webinar. A significant effort of the CDE in the area
disseminating best practices is around social media communities for California Green Ribbon
Schools. You can find us on Facebook as “California Green Ribbon Schools” and on Twitter as “@CAGreenRibbon.”
If you’re interested in more information about state or federal Green Ribbon programs, please
contact me anytime at [email protected] If you have questions during this webinar,
please type them in the chat box, and we’ll incorporate them into the presentation or
address them in time remaining at the end. With that, I am pleased to turn things over
to Debbie Shrem from the California Department of Public Health’s Work-Related Asthma Prevention
Program. Debbie received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill. In her job, she helps school districts transition to asthma-safer and healthier
cleaning products and methods. Today she will discuss the guidelines on Healthy Cleaning
and Asthma-Safe Schools that her department recently released.
Thank you, Lesley. I appreciate the opportunity to partner with you all and the California
Department of Education, with CASBO, and with Livermore School District. Again, my name
is Debbie Shrem, and I work in the Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program in the California
Department of Public Health. We collect data and information about work-related asthma
throughout the state, and make recommendations to reduce exposures to asthma-causing agents.
Our Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program created this project, which we sometimes will
refer to in this presentation as “CLASS,” Cleaning for Asthma-Safe schools. So, today
I’m going to talk with you about the guidelines that we recently released in October, and
everything I mention in this PowerPoint presentation, you will be able to see it in the guidelines.
You can find them online, which I will give you the link at the end of the presentation,
and we do have some print copies available as well. So, during today’s talk, I’m going
to tell you a couple of stories about a custodian and a school teacher who got sick from common
cleaning products; I’m going to describe what is work-related asthma; how cleaning products
impact health and learning; as well as some steps to transition to healthier cleaning;
and some helpful tools. But first let’s start with a few stories.
Our program receives work-related asthma cases that are comprised of emergency department
data, hospitalizations, workers’ compensation claims, and doctors’ first reports in California.
So everything-the stories I’m going to tell you-are very specific to California. Here’s
one case we received: This was a case study that we received of
a 43-year-old high school custodian, and he had breathing problems but he didn’t know
why. His breathing got better when he was away from work for a few months, and then
once he returned to work, his breathing problems came back. He visited the
emergency department several times and was
repeatedly told he had bronchitis. He finally received an asthma diagnosis, which he realized
was from the bathroom disinfectant and the floor stripper he worked with. One year later,
he left his job because of his breathing problem. This next case study is about a 57-year-old
kindergarten teacher who had asthma that she developed as an adult, but not while she was
at work. She had been at the same school working for eight years, and one day she was given
a spray bottle by a custodian to clean the tables in her classroom. She immediately developed
a wheezing and had trouble breathing. While she had inhalers at home for her asthma, she
had to go to urgent care, and was put on stronger medicine, including needing to do breathing
treatments at home. Asthma is very common, and people with asthma are affected by the
cleaning products used in schools. Our work-related asthma prevention program has many, many cases
and examples of people cleaning like this one, as well the one that I just told you
about. Cleaning products can cause or worsen asthma, and switching our cleaning products
can prevent this type of situation from happening among our school staff and students. So, this
product is looking avoid cases like these from happening again.
So what is work-related asthma? It’s considered work-related when a worker gets new asthma
that started as a result of their work exposures. It’s also considered a work-related when someone
who already has asthma gets worse while at work. So the case of the custodian, who the
picture on the left, he had what’s called new-onset asthma, which is that the asthmagens-the
chemicals that can cause asthma-gave him new asthma. People can be affected in many settings
once they have asthma, and the sooner somebody’s exposure is stopped, the better their health
outcomes. In the second picture-the picture on the right-the
kindergarten teacher had what we refer to as work-aggravated asthma, which is that her
asthma got worse while she was at work. Strong odors, irritating chemicals, dust, cold air,
and mold can all affect somebody who has asthma. Work-related asthma is serious, and it can
make people very sick. So, the reason for creating these resources-we
have many-in California alone, 40 percent of adults with asthma report that it was caused
or aggravated while they’re at work, so that’s about one million people. And in our database
that we get, which I talked about in the beginning, workers’ compensation claims, doctors’ first
reports, etc. 11 percent of our cases linked their asthma to cleaning products. And so
now the statistics on this slide are the numbers referring to that statistic. So of those 11
percent, one in five of them worked as a cleaner, so they were the ones that were doing the
cleaning at the time. But four out of the five workers, eighty percent, were not actually
cleaning, but they were around while cleaning had just happened or while it was happening,
so they walked into a bathroom, either while it was cleaning or after it had been cleaned.
And then 50 percent, half of our cases, had new asthma that started after they began their
work; so on-the-job exposures likely caused their asthma. So again, using safer cleaning
products protects not just custodians and school staff, but also students.
So now I’m going to quickly just go into a little bit more detail about some more health
concerns about cleaning products. Cleaning products have many harmful chemicals; not
only may they cause asthma or make it worse, but there are many other ill effects that
are potentially caused by common cleaning products. Ingredients in regular cleaning
products have been linked to many health effects that are acute, so problems that happen right
away, like eye damage or lung irritation, or chronic problems that take longer to develop,
like cancer or asthma. And when it comes to asthma, one of the best thing to do to clean
is to get rid of dust and mold and other triggers. So, it’s important to clean, but it’s also
important to clean with products that don’t make people sick. People deserve to work and
learn in a safe and healthy school environment, and they can, since safer cleaning products
and methods do exist. And we’ve seen, the data is there showing
that asthma and other health effects can impact learning and productivity. Children have a
high rate of asthma, not just in California, but across the country. In our state in particular,
about 14% of children have been diagnosed with asthma. It is one of the most common
chronic diseases in the U.S. Effects of asthma include missed school and work days, disruption
of sleep and daily activities, urgent medical visits for asthma exacerbations, and, sadly,
even death. Asthma impacts family members, friends and schools, and when kids miss school,
schools lose funds and lower academic achievement occurs. Asthma-related absences in California
schools cost about $30 million dollars in lost revenue each year.
So what we did was we created a really simple and easy-to-use step-by-step process. This
is supposed to make you laugh, hopefully it did.
Just kidding. This was actually our step-by-step process to walk people and facilities maintenance
and operations facilities departments to help them transition to asthma safer and healthier
cleaning. So the first step is to create your asthma safer and healthier team. The second
step is to train them, and these resources are spelled out in the guidelines in particular.
The third one is to inventory your product, so to go through and see what it is you have
in stock. How many neutral cleaners are you ordering? Maybe you could just order one instead
of five. The next one is to select your product, so to look to see which of the products that
I want to test out. Oh, maybe I have a graffiti remover that is super-hazardous. Are there
some that might be better out there to test out? And then invite vendors to come and meet
with you and tell you what their line of green and asthma-safer products are.
The sixth step is to then test and evaluate your products. So once you’ve picked out your
vendors and you know which products you want to test out, setting aside a couple of weeks
per product to see what you think of them. And finally, the final step is to communicate
your successes. The school community will want to know that you’ve been transitioning
your products to being healthier and asthma-safer. One of the things that we really wanted to
make sure of in doing for the guidelines would be to solicit custodial input. We felt that
having custodians be totally involved in the process would lead to its success. And so
in creating the team, deciding who was on the team is one way we solicit input. Testing
out the products is another way. Having them be involved in selecting who the vendors are
as well as recommending the best products for the district.
Now I’m going to talk to you a little bit about what green cleaners are. They tend to
cost the same or less. They’re better for peoples’ health, for the environment and tend
to work just as well as traditional cleaners. Green cleaning refers to using safer and environmentally
friendly cleaning methods and products. Many green cleaners don’t contain ingredients that
are known to cause asthma, cancer, reproductive problems or skin allergies. Green cleaners
are less harmful than conventional cleaners and do no emit as many volatile organic compounds,
compounds that create ozone or chemicals that can disrupt hormones. Green cleaning products
are manufactured, packaged and distributed in ways that are environmentally friendly
by minimizing harm to aquatic life. That’s just one example. They are biodegradable and
they use less energy. So one example of how green cleaners are safer for the environment
is that they are often concentrated and you can dilute them on site. So rather than purchasing
expensive ready-to-use products, green cleaners come highly concentrated. So that way, people
don’t have to pay for fuel to ship water across the country. Installing equipment to automatically
dilute these cleaners with water on-site is considerably more cost-effective and safer
for workers who are doing the mixing and the cleaning. Some dilution control systems dilute
one multi-purpose product at different strengths, and so this can reduce the number of cleaning
products needed for purchase, which also saves money. And we did find that some green cleaners
are not always protective for asthma because they use chemicals that can cause asthma.
So that’s why we saw a need specifically not just to focus on green cleaning in general,
but on asthma-safer. And I’m going to talk to you about that in
a little more detail now. So GreenSeal and UL Ecologo are two third-party certification
programs. Our class project, Cleaning for Asthma-Safe Schools project, the guidelines
from the project, specifically recommend selecting cleaning products that are third-party-certified
by reputable organizations like Green Seal and UL Ecologo. So these two third-party certification
programs, they certify most of the relevant products for schools, such as general-purpose,
restroom and glass cleaners. Most of these do not allow ingredients that can cause asthma,
cancer and harm our environment. These standards consider vulnerable populations in settings
such as schools, daycare facilities, nursing homes, and other facilities. As I mentioned,
not all green cleaners are safe for asthma, and so these two standards in particular,
UL Ecologo 2759 as well as GS-37, they don’t allow the use of chemicals that can cause
asthma. There’s also a lot of other prohibitions, a lot of other things that they prohibit,
such as carcinogens. So we feel that it is important to use third-party-certified green
cleaning products because it’s a great way to get schools to improve their use of cleaning
products. Most people, school districts, facilities departments don’t have the resources to determine
if a product is green or healthy, and so this is one way to ensure that. Green Seal and
UL Ecologo, they’re, also multi-attribute, so they look at health, they look at the environment,
they look at energy. They’re not narrow in focus and they take a more comprehensive approach.
The products they certify are made by mainstream companies. They have comparable prices and
they must work well and meet performance standards in order to be certified. Good certifying
agencies also make sure that they receive multidisciplinary stakeholder input to create
the criteria to undergo product review and conduct onsite auditing. So they make sure
they do what these companies say they’re going to do.
But that must also go into detail on something that we call “greenwashing,” you might be
familiar with the term. It happens when people are led to believe they’re using a green product
when in fact it’s not actually green. So people may be misled into buying products that do
not deliver on their environmental promise. A report on greenwashing by TerraChoice found
that more than 95% of products claiming to be green had at least one false or misleading
claim. So because it can be tricky to identify false claims, custodians, teachers, parents,
and even vendors – I’ve sadly had the experience of that – may not know the difference, either.
So starting a green-cleaning program can be challenging and confusing. So the class project
has seen many school districts who have tried to use or purchase healthier products and
have instead purchased products that are not actually green. So they were victims of greenwashing.
There are so many products out there and knowing which are truly safer from asthma, endocrine
disrupters, cancer, and are safer for the environment is incredibly important. So I’ve
had many phone conversations with companies that call me up and say “No, we’re not certified
by Green Seal or Ecologo. We have our own green line.” And so – this is the web page
of one such company – this is a very common scenario. But what happens is, upon closer
examination, many of these products, even though they have their own green line, would
never have passed the requirements that are necessary to become certified by Green Seal
or UL Ecologo. So a product may contain an ingredient that causes asthma or it may be
too corrosive. And then companies tell me, “Well, it’s too expensive to become third-party-certified,”
which we then looked into and we found out that applying for certification is frequently
a very small part of a company’s budget, and it is a worthwhile investment if they truly
have a green product. So green cleaning is not only about the chemicals,
but also about using better tools, cleaning methods, and equipment to create a healthy
environment and to reduce cleaning exposures. Green equipment is frequently asthma-friendly
because it can effectively remove allergens like dust and mold, and use fewer chemicals
that may cause asthma or make it worse. Green equipment also requires less water, is designed
to increase productivity, and to reduce injuries. These technologies can help save schools money
in the future on labor and healthcare costs, and possibly on asthma-related absences. So,
for example, abrasive floor pads, they stripped floor wax in place of asthma-causing chemicals.
And carpet extractors remove soil and residues from carpets and reduce mold growth. So that’s
just a couple of examples. A few more is that walk-off mats can remove
allergens from shoes to keep floors cleaner and less dust circulating the air. And vacuum
cleaners with high-efficiency air filters, they can effectively capture dirt, dust, and
germs. Microfiber is also an important cleaning tool.
The thing that I really like about it is that it tends to require less effort, so tests
have shown that cleaning with a microfiber mop reduced the number of bacteria by 99%,
whereas conventional cleaning reduced bacteria by about 33%. The University of California,
Davis Medical Center found that custodians used 95% less water when using a microfiber
mop compared to a cotton-string mop. The fibers carry an electric charge that attracts dust
and the tiny fibers penetrate cracks that traditional cloths and paper towels cannot.
So when I talk about asthma-safe cleaning, what exactly am I referring to? Asthma-safe
cleaning is also about using the right product for the right use. This includes training
custodians to prevent the overuse of disinfectants. And disinfectants should not be treated as
routine cleaning products. California’s Work-Related Asthma-Prevention Programs Database contains
many examples of school staff that experienced asthma symptoms from disinfectants in schools.
So really, an infection control plan is the best way to ensure that disinfectants are
being used only where needed and that they’re used properly, and on our website, we have
a disinfectant control handbook that was created by, really, I think, some of the leaders in
this subject throughout the country. Disinfecting is an important part of a Cleaning for Asthma-Safe
Schools program that really is to be used sparingly and only when necessary. Disinfectants
are pesticides. They are designed to kill all germs. And many disinfectants contain
ingredients that cause asthma or make it worse. So if not handled properly, some disinfectants
can also cause eye damage, chemical burns, and severe skin irritation.
So, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, regular cleaning can remove up to
99% bacteria if a microfiber cloth is used. So that’s why it’s usually not necessary to
disinfect school classrooms, including desks. The same applies to floors, unless there is
blood, body fluid, vomit, feces, or if required by law. Studies have shown that disinfecting
floors offer no greater health protection over routine floor cleaning. And the Center
for Disease Control recommends routine cleaning rather than disinfection for high-touch surfaces.
So that can include doorknobs, light switches, handrails, shared equipment. So districts
can clean these areas on a routine basis during the day with a microfiber cloth and a third-party-certified
all-purpose cleaner. And when there is an outbreak of an infectious disease and the
surface is touched by a variety of hands, custodians can clean more frequently.
So I already talked a little bit about disinfectants and one thing I want to say is, when I mentioned
before that there were the third-party-certified programs UL Ecologo and Green Seal, disinfectants
do not go under that category. EPA does not allow outside entities to certify disinfectants
because they are considered pesticides. And so for this reason, disinfectants and sanitizers,
which have an EPA registration number, cannot be certified by Green Seal or Ecologo. Instead,
EPA created a pilot program, which is called The Design for the Environment’s Antimicrobial
Pesticide Pilot Project, and they approve safer disinfectants. Products approved under
this program do have the Design for the Environment label – oh, and there’s a new label and
I’m sorry I didn’t update the presentation, I just realized. That just came out. So if
you have questions about what the new label looks like, let me know. You can email Lesley
through the chat button. So what we did was we created a list of asthma-safer
ingredients that may cause asthma. And so we can also find safer disinfectants by reviewing
the ingredients listed on the cleaning product’s label or their safety data sheet. So this
table right here lists products that are preferable to use and products to avoid. Asthma-safer
disinfectants contain hydrogen peroxide, citric acid, lactic acid, ethyl alcohol and isopropyl
alcohol. So these ingredients do not cause asthma. And ingredients to avoid include quaternary
ammonium compounds, also commonly referred to as “quats.” Quats have a lot of different
names, and so what I have listed on here is just a short list. But basically, if the chemical
lists something that sounds like quaternary ammonium compounds, like dimethyl benzyl ammonium
chloride, lauryl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, then it’s a quat. Other ingredients
include sodium hypochlorite, which is found in bleach, glutaraldehyde, peracetic acid
and thymol. These ingredients are found in disinfectants and are asthmagens. So in other
words, they can cause asthma. And while vinegar is natural and people like to use it, it contains
a significant amount of a known asthmagen. Cleaning products that contain acetic acid,
which is a major component in vinegar, would not be certified by Green Seal or Ecologo.
So now I’m going with talk to you about some of the guide’s training tools and the resources
that we included. So the two stories that I opened my presentation with are examples
of what we have in the guidelines. So, for example, you know, the one that you heard
about was the high school custodian who left his job due to asthma. We also had a case
of disinfectant wipes that caused an asthma flare-up.
Other things that we did was that we created was called Health Spotlights, so when there
was a point that we really wanted to make, we called out to it, such as the importance
of hand-washing in helping you create an asthma-safer cleaning program.
We also created different resources in the guidelines. We have a whole list of cleaning
product ingredients that are asthmagens, and then I also showed the table that we created
of asthma-safer ingredients and ingredients to avoid.
We also did recommended labeling programs and we tiered it. So, for example, Level 1,
what we call Level 1, are products and certification programs that prohibit the most asthma-causing
chemicals, so that’s the safest and healthiest option. So that’s what I talked about with
Green Seal and Ecologo, GS-37 and UL 2759. We changed the numbers so I still haven’t
memorized them. And then Level 2, for example, prohibits some asthma-causing chemicals.
Other helpful tools that we created and we tested these out-oh, that’s one thing I didn’t
mention, when we started this program, we did a couple pilot programs with some districts.
This was several years ago and in working with school districts, we created these tools
and have since refined them. So we created Appendix D, which is a cleaning product inventory
form, so for districts to go through and see what they have. Then the picture with the
smiley and sad faces, that was an evaluation form, so after districts test out their different
products and they’re evaluating which ones they liked the best, I created this sheet
here. I know that many custodians speak different language, so I tried to create it as friendly
for people who maybe don’t have as fantastic of a command of English as others, so I tried
to put in pictures for the evaluation sheet. And then we also created a sample vendor letter,
which when districts are looking to see what products they might transition to, who are
some vendors that they could reach out to, and this letter includes all the things that
districts might want to consider asking their vendors to bring and present.
We also then created the School Newsletter and a press release for a local newspaper.
You know, districts work really hard when they’re transitioning their products, and
so being able to toot their own horn is great, and it’s also fantastic to be able to then
say that these are things we’re doing, because the school community will want to know that
they’re making these changes. Other helpful tools: Once a district has really
gotten more secure in their healthier and asthma-safer cleaning, they then might want
to the school board and say, OK, let’s pass a resolution or let’s have this model policy.
And then what we did in the past was, at that school board meeting, we would give custodians
a certificate acknowledging them and thanking them for their hard work.
So this is our website and this is a way that you, as a school district, can consider Cleaning
for an Asthma-Safe School or you can encourage your local district. We created a short video
about how one custodian had work-related asthma and then we featured Glen, who you’re going
to hear in just a minute, about how his school district transitioned to Healthier and Asthma-Safer
Cleaning by using these guidelines. So please check out our website. And then I also have
my email address, [email protected] And there it is again, so you have it twice,
as well as my phone number and my contact information. So I want to thank you for your
time and attention. Glen will now talk with you about his experience with following the
guide and transitioning to Asthma-Safer Cleaning. But before I pass on the baton, I want to
tell you about Glen. I’ve really enjoyed working with Glen these past several years. He was
involved in private industry before he came to Livermore Valley School District in 2011
as the operations supervisor. Glen oversees the custodians at the district’s 21 facilities,
as well as the grounds crews for those facilities, the summer team cleaning at all sites, and
the gym floor refinishing. He is a certified playground safety inspector and is in charge
of the integrated pest management strategies for the district. He is married with three
children and I found out he also volunteers at the local police station, so what’s there
not to love about Glen? Thank you all and here’s Glen.
Thanks, Debbie. So, as somebody who’s gone through this process, I’ve been asked if I
can just run through, of the Livermore School District did our transformation using the
class model that Debbie has outlined. So, like many of you, I’m sure you have some perceptions
that maybe green cleaning doesn’t quite get the job done as well as some of our more standard
cleaning products, that products without bleach, ammonia, acetic acid, etc. just don’t have
the same cleaning power. And that was our thoughts coming into this, that though they
were safe, safety came with a sacrifice of just not cleaning quite as well. Also, concerns
we had were that they’re going to be more expensive. Green products would cost more,
which would have an impact on our already tight budgets. If a product was labeled green,
it must be green, which is not true, and Debbie kind of ran through that a little bit, and
we found that when we were in search of vendors self-proclaiming their products. So many manufacturers
do self-proclaim their products as green, but the research, as Debbie pointed out earlier,
shows that up to 95% of the consumer products claiming that they were green are in fact
not. So we began soliciting our vendors for green products, we ran into that several times,
letting us know that their products were green, but they had absolutely no basis for their
claim that their products were green. Our custodians were apprehensive about green products,
they had some of the same concerns that I’ve just mentioned, high cost, didn’t clean well,
as well as the concern that this was just another management decision being forced upon
them, making their jobs just that much harder. We all know how well that stuff is perceived.
So, getting started, following the class project guidelines, we selected a group of sites to
be tested, we chose a K-8 school and a large elementary. These schools offered us a good
cross-section of cleaning areas and custodians with a good mix of personalities. And the
K-8 school is right across the street from my office, so to be honest with you, that
was pretty much picked by convenience. It made it a lot easier for me to observe the
process and check out any of the concerns that the custodians had at that site where
we were reviewing products. And the custodians were actually pretty excited about being chosen
to try out the products knowing that their input would possibly determine how we would
be cleaning district-wide in the future. Contacting vendors to participate, I just did it by phone
but Debbie said she had a form that you could also send out. But if your day is anything
like mine, there’s probably not too many days that go by where a vendor doesn’t try to call
on you, trying to sell you the latest and greatest products that they specifically have
to offer, of course. So I contacted a number of vendors and all of them wanted to participate,
I didn’t have anybody tell me no. So I chose four vendors to participate out of the group
that I called. And this is an ideal situation for them, if you think about it. Putting their
products in our hands, proving their claims of having the best products at the best value
on the market. The requirement we had was that the product, we wanted dispensing systems
and that we would need two weeks’ worth of cleaning products. All supplied what we needed.
Every single one of them gave us the products that we needed, the dispensers that we needed,
to check out their products. The only deal that I cut with them to have them be a part
was that at the end of this, we would completely show them the results, so they could see how
they stacked up against their competition, which I think they all appreciated getting
that feedback and information into how their green-labeled products were going to rate
against their competitors. So
the custodians used the cleaners and filled out a simple evaluation form for each of the
products. We ran the test for two weeks, met for discussion, they would turn in their forms,
and we got set up for the next set of trials. For the trials, the vendors also came in and
met with the custodians, taught them how to use their specific dispensers and their products
for the test period. And so it went on for about eight weeks, a little bit longer than
that, as you developed into different products, but basically about eight weeks is what it
took us to run through four different vendors. So our lessons learned through this process
– the use of the dispensing equipment is very beneficial. You’ve all heard of the “glug-glug”
method and this cuts away from that and it adds exactly what it needed for them to clean
instead of any extra or not-enough product. Green-cleaning products clean well, and the
pricing is comparable with our standard products. Successful implementation is increased when
the custodians are involved in the process. I feel very strongly about this. Because when
you get the custodians involved, that’s your sales force at the end of this, to sell it
to the other site to get everybody onboard. They’re part of the process, they feel that
part of the process, and they’re going to help you to move the products into the other
schools if your decision is made to do so. Where our district is today. So we began placing
green-cleaning products into elementary schools, then the middle schools, and then finally
the high schools. We moved traditional cleaners up the chain to the schools still using those
products and gave replacement green products out of our maintenance budget. So what we
did is we moved the products up into the middle schools from elementary. I would then purchase
the products so they didn’t go through an added expense on the site level, to get them
the green-cleaning products. And then after the elementaries were done, I pretty much
didn’t have to do that with the next set of schools because they already got the free
products from the elementary schools. That’s how we kind of moved up and went from elementary,
then into middle school and then to high school, moving up with the green-cleaning products.
We now have all the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District set up with dispensers
and green-cleaning products, which includes two different traditional high schools, five
middle schools, in which two are K-8, eight elementary schools, our district offices,
our maintenance and grounds departments, as well as two other sites used for work experience
and other programs. So a couple of issues, I know you guys will
have questions afterwards, but a couple of issues that have come up that I thought I’d
go ahead and talk about was that during the wintertime, especially when you get outbreaks
such as norovirus or different things taking place, the green products are not labeled
to kill anything. So that takes away the stuff that Debbie talked about previously with regards
to the EPA and other things. So even if they do, they’re still labeled as not killing anything
so they can have green certification. So we keep a hydrogen peroxide product available
labeled “for full use of staff.” Parents know it kills the things, but because it’s also,
because it’s hydrogen-peroxide-based, it is a healthier product. So we keep some of that
onsite in case we have these outbreaks where we really need to scrub down a classroom to
address concerns there. Some of our custodians have complained about wanting to go back to
their old cleaners. You know, they want to switch back to the old. It’s kind of like,
I think of my dad always wanting to have Chevys, no matter how good a Ford or a Toyota might
be, you know, he’s had Chevys for all his life and Chevy’s the truck to get, but things
change and things are better, but some people just don’t like change. So there’s just a
couple of things that we’ve come across that are common concerns for different people.
Anyway, thank you very much for listening. Okay, we have some time left for questions,
and one question that was typed into the chat box earlier asking about the rate of new asthma
among workers. We’re gonna have Debbie address that.
I just want to point out that I got a text message saying Glen is awesome. Thank you,
Glen, for your presentation. Totally appreciate you coming up here. So, the rate of new asthma
among workers versus incidental exposure to cleaning and chemicals. Custodians have a
rate of work-related asthma that is about twice that of all the occupations that are
reported to us. And we can’t calculate a rate for all bystanders since we don’t know what
the base number is, we don’t have a denominator. And then, we also got a question of-Lesley,
do you want to read…? When Debbie was showing the statistics about
asthma, there was a question as to whether that included both work-related asthma and…
You mean occupational asthma and work-aggravated asthma?
So yeah, for us, when we’re talking about work-related asthma, we are including statistics
for both work-aggravated asthma and new-onset. And then there was a question that talked
about the slide that showed some examples of greenwashing on a website. I only had it
up on the screen for a second. I’m not sure if the question was what the site is for the
website. I would have to dig that up, that came up several years ago. But the reference
to the greenwashing report from TerraChoice, Lesley sent that out…privately or to everybody?
To everybody. Any other questions? Go ahead and type them
in. We’ll give you all a few minutes to ponder. Maybe not that long.
Just a bit of logistics – we are recording the webinar today, so it will be posted within
a couple of weeks. I’m sure you’ll find that on CDE’s webpage, CASBO will be sharing it
on their webpage, CDPH will be sharing it on their webpage. Or if you can’t find it,
feel free to email any one of us and we would be happy to send it to you. We could also
send it directly to all the attendees today. On behalf of CDE, I’d like to thank you so
much for joining us, and to thank Debbie and Glen for sharing their expertise on this important
topic. Oh, there’s one more question. You’re in under
the gun, Tim. Would you be able to name some of the suitable products or product makers
that are green-approved? Well, you know, I thought about this question
coming up, about what product do you guys choose and what do you go with. You know,
I don’t really want to give away because I believe in the process so much. I don’t know
what your situation is, if you’re with the school district or assuming so, but you’ve
really got to get the custodians involved and get them into this process and pick out
what’s right for you. What’s right in Livermore School District for green-cleaning may not
necessarily be what your district picks for your cleaning products. So, you know, I just
think it’s very important to go through the process and I really am apprehensive about
giving out what we came to. If you’d like, you can email me. My email address is up there.
Hopefully you can grab it. And ask me the question, and I will send you the names of
the four vendors that we went through, that we tested, if you’d like, if that helps you
out. But I do not want to name the exact product that we chose to use in our district because
I want everybody to go through the process, I think it’s extremely important. If you’re
going to make this stick, you need to go through the process.
“What about cost comparisons for disinfectants?” Victoria says. A lot of people we work with
say they can’t switch disinfectants because of the cost.
Yeah, so we ran some of those tests on how much it was costing and, like Debbie had mentioned
before, about the dispensing equipment and the concentrate, people look at, oh, well
this jug of disinfectant is nine dollars. Oh, but this product you want us to use now
is 25 dollars a gallon. You know, oh, we can’t afford this. What you’re not realizing is
this one’s getting mixed at two-to-one, this one’s seven-to-one. So where’s your cost savings?
I mean, we found that it was less expensive or about the same in all the products we were
testing. So you found that it was about the same or
less expensive when you looked at the whole? Absolutely. As well as disinfectants. As products
on the whole, whether it was glass cleaner, multi-purpose cleaners or different things.
It was very comparable. Ooh, this is a good one, from Jerry. How did
you stop teachers from bringing in cleaners? That is an ongoing problem. I think, me and
Debbie had been talking about this probably a couple of weeks ago or so. Making sure that
when you send out that beginning-of-the-school-year list, being involved with what they’re telling
their parents to bring to the classroom. Because I’ll open classrooms under the sink all the
time and I’ll see all these things labeled “keep out of reach of children” right there
under the sink in the classroom. So yeah, we’ve got to change that mindset and it’s
going to take some time, but yeah, just working with the teachers and educating them and helping
them create lists to give to their parents, because parents want to donate a lot of those
things, disinfectant wipes and different things, at the beginning of the school year. So I
think if you give them a list and say, hey, this is what we really want you to bring into
your classroom so that we’re making sure that the products that we’re using are much safer
for everybody. And I know that some districts actually tell
teachers, if you have a product that is not approved by the district, we’re going to take
it away from you if we find it. And the districts do come in and take those products away.
When I find them on inspection of rooms, when I go in and open underneath the sink and find
those products, I remove them. And it’s not just that, it’s our insurance carrier. When
they come out and do site inspections and they open those sinks and see stuff in reach
of children that’s clearly labeled “keep out of reach of children,” you know, they frown
on that. So we take them out of the classroom when we see them.
Great. One more question. A couple more questions. Does EPA’s Design for Environment only include
disinfectants that do not cause asthma? So that’s one of those third-party things?
You know, that’s a good question. I will get back to you on that once I do a little more
digging. Next was, Glen, can we have your email address
again? Sure. It’s [email protected]
That’s in the chat box, so everyone can contact Glen about the great work that he’s doing
in his district. And the answer for EPA is that, yes, so far,
they only include disinfectants that do not cause asthma. They also look at more than
just asthma as well. Like, making sure that they don’t cause cancer. Any other questions?
So then we’ve got one more question from Kevin, it said thank you. You’re very welcome, Kevin.
Maybe along with the webinar recording that will be relayed to us later, actual statistics
on which the 20%, 80% asthma numbers were based would be interesting to see. That’s
our own data that we’ve collected over many, many years, work-related asthma cases that
we get through doctor’s first reports, worker’s compensation claims, emergency department
data, as well as hospitalization. So Kevin, if there’s something more specific than that,
we can try and answer that question more directly. Well, I think that concludes our webinar,
unless if anybody wants to squeeze in one last question. Alright, well thank you all
very much for tuning in. We hope you enjoyed the webinar. It was fun to get all these extras
together to help make it happen. Thank you again to Glen and to Lesley and to Grace Vote
with CASBO for helping make this happen. Take care and have a good day. Bye-bye.