Children surrounded by chemicals in school

As your children board the bus for school tomorrow, consider this: A study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that cleaning products used in California’s schools emitted more than 450 chemicals into the air. This includes formaldehyde, chloroform and a long list of chemicals that have clear links to asthma, cancer and other troubling health problems.

Nearly 7 million children in the U.S. suffer from asthma, and approximately 13 million school days are missed annually due to asthma-related reasons.

The cleaning supplies tested include such well-known brands as Clorox Bleach and Pine-Sol. Comet Disinfectant Powder Cleanser topped the list, emitting 146 contaminants. Simple Green, which claims to be nontoxic, gave off 93 different air contaminants; a Febreze Air Effects air freshener released 89.

Cleaning supplies release 32 tons of contaminants into the air each day in California alone. Kids breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults, do not detoxify as quickly, have frequent hand-to-mouth contact and have organs that are still in sensitive stages of development. These increased risks factors make adverse exposures not only physically dangerous for students, but also create atmospheres where it can become difficult to learn.

Asthma is a leading chronic illness among children and youth in the United States and one of the leading causes of school absenteeism. Nearly 7 million children in the U.S. suffer from asthma, and approximately 13 million school days are missed annually due to asthma-related reasons.

Research shows that implementing healthy school policies to improve indoor air quality, such as using nontoxic cleaning products, will foster a healthier and more productive learning environment, including better attendance and increased test scores.

EWG found that some cleaners that purport to be green are not, misleading schools and consumers with their marketing claims. Cleaning a classroom with certified green products releases less than one-sixth of the total air pollution released by cleaning a classroom with conventional cleaners. Certified green general purpose cleaners that have been tested contain just one-quarter of the chemicals with documented ties to specific health concerns, such as asthma and cancer.

 

Sources: EWG: Classroom Cleaners Release 457 Air Pollutants.www.ewg.org/schoolcleaning supplies/classroomcleaningfindings.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2010.

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