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What role does the New York State Office of General Services Environmental Services Unit (ESU) play in Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005?

Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

ESU is responsible for implementing the New York State Green Cleaning Program, Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005, which relates to all public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools in New York.  These policies require all state agencies and public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools to obtain and use cleaning products that reduce potential impacts to human health and the environment as compared with those of traditional cleaning products.  ESU works with the New York State Departments of Education, Health, Environmental Conservation, and Labor to implement these legal requirements.  ESUs focus continues to be on occupant health, which is closely linked to cleanliness.  ESU developed guidelines and specifications for green cleaning products for state agencies and green cleaning and maintenance products for all public and non public elementary and secondary school districts statewide.



Are there exceptions to Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 or related rules and guidelines?

Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

The laws for green cleaning products do not supersede or change existing health, labor, education, and environmental regulations and professional guidance related to cleaning and maintenance practices and disposal of hazardous chemicals.  OGS recognizes that certain circumstances (e.g., blood spills) and locations (e.g., food service, swimming pool areas, nursing offices, school-based health centers, and in-school child daycare centers) may call for special cleaning practices that are required by existing laws, regulations, or professional guidance.  When selecting green products and practices, schools should identify areas and activities, such as those described above, that need special cleaning practices and products.  Personnel must be trained in the proper use of disinfectants, sanitizers, or other products when special cleaning practices are prescribed.  Product label directions must be followed.  For a list of other laws and guidelines, see the Policies, Guidelines, and Reports page.



Are private preschools/daycare centers subject to the Green Cleaning Guidelines and Specifications promulgated by OGS?

Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

Private daycare centers are not public or private schools and are not required to comply with New York State Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005.  Daycare centers generally serve children younger than five years of age for full day care or before/after school care for school-age children.  Daycare centers fall under the supervision of and are licensed by the State Office of Children and Family Services.  The Office of Children and Family Services' website provides two handbooks for daycare providers with information on preventing the spread of germs and cleaning procedures.  These handbooks are titled "Family Day Care Provider Handbook'" (http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/publications/Pub4623.pdf) and "Group Family Day Care Provider Handbook" (http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/publications/Pub4624.pdf).



When did Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 take effect?

Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

This law was effective on September 1, 2006.



What schools are covered by Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005?

Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

This law covers all public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools including:

  • Charter schools;
  • Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCESs);
  • Private and parochial schools (including schools for students with disabilities); and
  • State-supported schools for the deaf and blind.



Why was Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 introduced?

Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

New York is the first state to mandate the use in schools of cleaning products that are both environmentally sensitive and environmentally sustainable.  New York State introduced the legislation to reduce, as much as possible, exposure of children and school staff to potentially harmful chemicals and substances used in the cleaning and maintenance of school facilities.  This policy is substantiated by the following facts about the school environment:

  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that air pollutant levels can be two to five times, and occasionally up to 100 times, higher indoors than outdoors.
  • Even more so than adults, children can be vulnerable to, and may be severely affected by, exposure to chemicals, hazardous wastes, and other environmental hazards. 
  • Children, teachers, and employees spend a significant amount of time in school buildings that may contain harmful chemicals from cleaners and other maintenance products.
  • Schools have four times the number of occupants per square foot than most office buildings.
  • Several studies have shown links between chemicals used in institutional cleaning products and the increased occurrence of asthma and reproductive harm.

Reducing the use of toxic cleaning products will reduce the amount of hazardous waste requiring disposal and causing damage to our ecosystem.



How will Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 be enforced?

Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

The Office of the State Comptroller audits schools to determine their compliance with implementing the provisions of the law.  Therefore, to meet this mandate and future reporting requirements, schools should document the cleaning products purchased and the products replaced.  It is the school's responsibility to document its adherence/compliance to the laws.



What do the terms "green cleaning products" and "green cleaning" mean?

Green Cleaning

The terms "green cleaning products" and "green cleaning" are synonymous with environmentally sensitive cleaning products and environmentally preferred cleaning products, respectively.  Green cleaning products are cleaning and maintenance products that minimize adverse impacts on human health and the environment and yet clean effectively.  Green cleaning is more than simply switching to green cleaning products.  Green cleaning uses a holistic approach to facility cleaning and maintenance that includes green cleaning products, defined roles and responsibilities for all building occupants, a comprehensive custodial training program, and green cleaning policies and procedures.

Instituting a well-designed Green Cleaning Program can provide health benefits (reduce sick days and absences), promote increased productivity and learning, reduce liability through safety training, provide cost savings, and improve cleaning efficiency.  A Green Cleaning Program can also earn the facility credits towards Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (http://www.usgbc.org).  These credits can be obtained by meeting certain requirements under the Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) section (https://www.usgbc.org/displaypage.aspx?cmspageid=221#v2008). See FAQ "What are the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-EBOM, and LEED Certification?" for additional information.



Why do schools need Green Cleaning Programs?

Green Cleaning

Implementing Green Cleaning Programs in schools is important because:

  • Schools have four times the number of occupants per square foot than most office buildings;
  • The EPA estimates that 40% of our nation's 115,000 schools suffer from poor environmental conditions that may compromise the health, safety, and learning of our students;
  • Asthma affects one in 13 children and results in over 14 million missed schools days each year,making it the leading cause of absenteeism; and
  • A successfully implemented Green Cleaning Program can reduce the levels of cleaning chemicals, mold, and airborne dust, major indoor triggers of asthma attacks.

A comprehensive Green Cleaning Program improves indoor air quality and reduces hazardous chemical use thus promoting or creating a healthier learning environment for children and a safer workplace for staff.  A Green Cleaning Program incorporates a holistic approach that includes the participation of all building stakeholders, not just the custodial staff.  Green Cleaning Programs also include a comprehensive training program for custodial staff on the handling of chemicals, cleaning procedures, equipment operations, and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) - required training.



Who is responsible for a school's Green Cleaning Program?

Green Cleaning

The responsibility (ownership) of the program is typically shared among several groups in the school; the success of a Green Cleaning Program does not fall solely upon the school's custodial staff.  Stakeholders responsible for the development and implementation of a school's Green Cleaning Program may include:

  • Administrative and supervisory staff;
  • School nurses;
  • Teachers;
  • Custodial staff;
  • School board members;
  • Unions;
  • Parent-Teachers Associations;
  • Students; and
  • School Health and Safety Committee.

Each stakeholder group's specific roles and responsibilities are determined during the program's initial development stages.  The Health and Safety Committee should include representatives of these groups and may be able to help develop or enhance the green cleaning program.  A core team or committee, representative of the school's stakeholders, manages and guides the Green Cleaning Program development and implementation.



Do Green Cleaning Programs and products cost more than traditional cleaning programs and products?

Green Cleaning

The cost of green cleaning products and programs, in most instances, is equivalent to traditional cleaning products and programs.  However, schools implementing a Green Cleaning Program may even realize a reduction in overall cleaning program cost by:

  • Determining cleaning equipment needs and then investigating a number of green cleaning products to determine the best match for the application;
  • Reducing chemical waste and waste disposal requirement;
  • Reducing the amount and number of cleaning products needed;
  • Causing a reduction in sick time and at-work injuries; and
  • Instituting an overall green cleaning training program that includes training about product use to reduce waste and obtain the best results.



How can I calculate the real cost of cleaning products, such as detergents, that are diluted prior to use?

Green Cleaning

A per-gallon or per-pound price may look good on paper, but the actual cost per gallon of a diluted cleaning solution (such as a washing or mopping solution) is the price that determines competitiveness.  Schools can calculate the real cost of concentrated cleaning chemicals by converting the concentrated volume into the diluted volume and then dividing the diluted volume by the cost of the chemical.  For example: A concentrated super-cleaner costs $35.00 per gallon with a manufacturer's recommended dilution of 1 ounce of concentrated super-cleaner to 32 ounces of water; so, one gallon of concentrated super cleaner produces 32 gallons of cleaning solution and costs $1.09 per gallon ($35 divided by 32 gallons).  When comparing chemical products, purchasing agents should make sure that the cost per unit of measure (that is, cost per gallon or cost per ounce) are the same.  To assist in calculating the real cost of using concentrated chemicals after dilution the OGS Green Cleaning website provides a product cost calculator (Cost Calculator). To use the product cost calculator, you must know the volume and the cost of the product purchased, and the amount directed to be used per gallon of water.



How will I know if a Green Cleaning Program will be as effective as our current program?

Green Cleaning

One of the first steps in developing a Green Cleaning Program is to establish current facility conditions related to the physical layout, population served, cleaning tasks, custodial resources, cleaning chemical and equipment inventories, complaints, and training programs.  From this baseline facility assessment, clear and measurable goals and objectives for improving existing conditions can be established to help determine the effectiveness of the Green Cleaning Program.  The OGS Program Tool Kit web page provides tools to assess a school's current facility baseline, collect key information and data, guide schools in implementing a Green Cleaning Program, and gauge progress during implementation of a Green Cleaning Program.



Why is high performance equipment an important component of a Green Cleaning Program?

Green Cleaning

High performance cleaning equipment effectively and efficiently removes dirt from surfaces, reduces the reintroduction of dirt on surfaces, and reduces the overall amount of chemical use in the cleaning process.  For example, HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration vacuum cleaners reduce the amount of small airborne particles by effectively removing 99.96% of particulates that are more than 0.3 microns in size.  Microfiber cloths and mops offer greater dirt absorbency than traditional products, thus reducing the amount of chemicals used and the level of cleaning effort.  Another advantage of microfiber cloths and mop heads is washability and durability - they can be reused over 100 times.  Mechanical floor care equipment with attached vacuums and filters also capture particulates that otherwise become airborne.



What is the definition of "green cleaning" products?

Green Cleaning

Under Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005, "green cleaning products" are defined as cleaning and maintenance products that minimize adverse impacts on children's health and the environment, while cleaning effectively, as determined by the Commissioner of the of the Office of General Services.  Ecologo and Green Seal are two organizations that certify some of the chemical "green cleaning products" found on the Green Cleaning Product List page.



What are the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-EBOM, and LEED Certification?

Green Cleaning

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a nonprofit organization committed to expanding sustainable building practices and transforming the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated.  USGBC created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and through an open, consensus-based process led by several committees, developed the LEED Green Building Rating System (LEED GBRS) to rate buildings based on the performance of five key areas of human and environmental health - sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.  The LEED GBRS is made up of several rating systems with one specific for existing buildings.  The LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) rating system was devised to measure operations, improvements, and maintenance procedures that maximize operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts in existing buildings.  LEED-EBOM addresses whole-building cleaning and maintenance issues (including chemical use), recycling programs, exterior maintenance programs, and systems upgrades.  The 2009 LEED-EBOM rating system awards points for each criterion met.  The points are added to provide the overall building score.  Based on the score, the building may be awarded one of the following levels:

  • LEED Certified:  40-49 points
  • Silver:  50-59 points
  • Gold:  60-79 points
  • Platinum:  80 points and above



Are there green cleaning practices I can implement at home?

Green Cleaning

People can implement several green cleaning practices in their homes.  These practices include:

  • Using microfiber cloths and mops;
  • Creating house rules (such as removing shoes at entrances);
  • Placing walk-off mats at all entrances to remove debris from shoe bottoms;
  • Using high performance vacuum cleaners with HEPA filtration along with changing of vacuum bags when half full;
  • Replacing traditional cleaning chemicals with environmentally friendly cleaners; and
  • reducing the different types of cleaners used;



Can conventional cleaning products really be harmful?

Products

Yes.  Certain conventional cleaning products may contain chemicals harmful to humans and the environment.  New York passed laws requiring the use of green cleaning products in schools because of the possible adverse health effects of cleaning chemicals on school children.  Green Seal, a non-profit organization that provides science-based environmental certification standards, has developed the "Environmental Standard for General-Purpose, Bathroom, Glass, and Carpet Cleaners Used for Industrial and Institutional Purposes'"(GS-37), which establishes certification requirements for safer and less harmful cleaning products.  Under the GS-37 standard for Green Seal Certification, products must meet requirements for toxic compounds, carcinogens and reproductive toxins, skin and eye irritation, skin sensitization, and combustibility, as well as life cycle analysis from production to disposal.



Are children especially susceptible to the adverse health effects of cleaning chemicals?

Products

A child's body is not fully developed and its ability to metabolize, detoxify, and excrete harmful chemicals differs from that of an adult's.  Therefore, compared to adults, children can be especially susceptible to the health effects of chemicals found in cleaning products.



What are the benefits of using microfiber products?

Products

Microfiber products are manufactured with polyester/nylon fibers that have split edges capable of trapping and holding microbes, dust, and debris more effectively than traditional products.  Since the particles are trapped, fewer are transferred from surface to surface during cleaning activities, requiring less cleaning solution.  Custodians can use microfiber products on many types of hard surfaces including glass, mirrors, restrooms sinks and toilets, kitchen counters, and floors.  Scientific findings on the effectiveness of microfiber can be found in "Microbiologic Evaluation of Microfiber Mops for Surface Disinfection" in the American Journal of Infection Control (2007; 35(9):569-73).



Can I bring cleaners to school from home?

Products

No.  Under no circumstances should people bring their own cleaning products into a school facility.  Cleaning products brought into a school without the authorization of the school district administration pose potential hazards by evading key provisions of the federal and state Right-To-Know Laws.  These laws guarantee employees the right to information, training, and education regarding toxic substances in the workplace.  Faculty and/or administrative staff are encouraged to speak with the facility management supervisors to ensure rooms are cleaned properly with appropriate cleaning products.

Depending on local district policy, faculty and/or administrative staff may be provided with approved cleaning products to use as necessary and appropriate, according to their own judgment.  It is recommended that faculty and/or administrative staff be offered training on the proper use of these products as a prerequisite to their use.



Is it acceptable to use air fresheners in schools?


Air Freshener

The OGS approved cleaning list does not include air fresheners.  Air fresheners are not cleaning products and we recommend that schools and state agencies should work to eliminate the source of the odor problem, and not simply treat a symptom, by masking the odor with any products, air freshener or other types of products.  In certain cases, simply opening doors or windows, or increasing the ventilation to the area, may help, but again it may not address the source of the odor or smell.  The focus by an agency or school should be to achieve clean surfaces, which will then be free of odor-generating left-behind soils.  Eliminating such soil-generated odors should reduce or eliminate the need to use fragrance based chemicals and aerosols. 
Other things to consider:
  • All drains in the area in question should be investigated as well for the cause of the odor.
  • Please remember that the introduction of any fragrance, from a cleaning product or from an air freshener, can potentially result in unintended consequences, by possibly triggering an asthmatic reaction in sensitive individuals.
  • Determine if your cleaning products are working as promised, or if the area needs to be cleaned more often.  In most cases, a good quality green cleaning product should be able to remove dirt and odors without the need for a fragrance or air freshener.



Is it acceptable to use fragrances in cleaning products used in schools?

Products

The Guidelines for Green Cleaning currently allow the use of cleaning products with fragrances, but added fragrance ingredients are often unnecessary in cleaning products.  OGS recommends that good cleaning management practices include minimizing, to the extent practical, the use of products that leave a scent in the room.  Under the current OGS criterion, the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the product must identify added fragrance but disclosure of individual proprietary ingredients is not required.  The OGS supports a review of this criterion to determine if restrictions can be placed on fragrant ingredients likely to trigger adverse respiratory reactions while still allowing for reasonable variety and innovation in the market. 

To aid schools in identifying products with fragrance, the OGS Product List Web page has the capability to filter for products with or without added fragrance (https://greencleaning.ny.gov/Product/Default.aspx).  School personnel responsible for purchasing cleaning products should verify the presence of fragrance in products with the supplier or manufacturer.



What constitutes acceptable green cleaning products for schools in New York?

Products

New York has established specific criteria for green cleaning products. These can be found in the Policies, Guidelines and Reports page. 



Is there a list of OGS approved environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products?

Products

Yes.  Under Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005, OGS has developed guidelines and specifications for environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products and created a list of approved products that meet these specifications.
There are five categories of OGS-approved products: Cleaning Products (composed of Glass Cleaners, General Purpose Cleaners, Toilet Bowl Cleaners, Carpet Spot Removers, Carpet Cleaners and Bathroom Cleaners); Floor Finish Products;  Floor Finish Stripper Products; Hand Soaps; and Vacuum Cleaners. Products are noted with "Preferred Source"or "State Contract and Contract Information" when such information is available.  The most current product list is on the OGS Green Cleaning Website:
 



If a vendor currently advertises its cleaning products as "green", can they be used in schools?

Products

Characterization of a product as green by vendors, third-party organizations, or others does not mean that the products will satisfy the requirements of the Law, or that such a product is on OGS's acceptable products list.  Schools should use discretion when consulting with vendors, shopping for green cleaning and maintenance products, and when testing these products in their facilities.  OGS developed green cleaning guidelines and a list of approved products to help in this process.



Are all bio-based cleaning products acceptable for use in schools?

Products

All school cleaning products must meet the guidelines and specifications defined by OGS.  Except for floor finishes and floor strippers, unless Green Seal or Ecologo have certified the bio-based product, OGS cannot approve it for use in schools.  When certifying cleaning products, a third party evaluates the product based on certain criteria including toxicological properties, i.e., the ability of products or their constituents to cause health effects.  There is no evidence that bio-based (naturally derived) products are less likely to affect the health of building occupants than other approved products.  For example, natural or naturally occurring products like citrus-based (from orange or lemon peels) products contain terpenes (e.g., d-limonene) that, on contact with air, are oxidized to form a sensitizing chemical that can affect human health. 



Are disinfectants covered as a product category in the Green Cleaning Guidelines?



Products

No. The Guidelines for Green Cleaning do not specifically address disinfectants, because they are not considered cleaners.  Under Green Seal's GS-37 standard that was adopted in the Guidelines, bathroom cleaners are permitted to make disinfecting, sanitizing, or other antimicrobial claims on their labels and in their advertising.  General-purpose, carpet, and glass cleaners are not permitted to make such claims. 

Any product that makes an antimicrobial claim must be registered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.  Although bathroom cleaners that are also sanitizer/disinfectants can be certified under the GS-37 standard, such certification does not imply safety or negate the need to follow proper safety precautions as described on product labels.  Furthermore, the EPA does not allow the use of symbols implying environmental preferability, safety, or non-toxicity (such as the Green Seal symbol) on the label, packaging, or advertising of these products (www.greenseal.org/newsroom/pr120806.cfm).

For routine cleaning, schools must select cleaning products, including bathroom cleaners from the list of OGS approved green cleaning products.  However, the OGS guidelines recognize that the use of disinfectants and sanitizers in certain areas (e.g., food service areas) and circumstances (e.g., disease outbreaks) may be required or recommended by health and other laws, regulations, or guidance (see Section II, Related Rules and Guidelines for more information).  When and where disinfectant/sanitizers are used, they must be registered by the EPA and DEC for the intended use.  Personnel must be trained in the proper use of these products and label directions must be followed.  OGS recommends that state agencies and school districts establish a policy to explain when and under what circumstances the use of disinfectants is necessary.

The public health benefit of using disinfectants and sanitizers in routine cleaning is a controversial topic.  Cleaning with soap or detergent and water removes large numbers of microorganisms from surfaces (Sehulster et al. 2004).  Furthermore, cleaning is a necessary first step to sanitization or disinfection because many soils will reduce the effectiveness of a sanitizer or disinfectant.  Unless disinfectant cleaners are used as a sanitizer/disinfectant according to the label requirements, the product could be providing no antimicrobial function and only contributing to an increased, unnecessary load of antimicrobial agent in the environment.  To be an effective sanitizer, most labels require that a surface first be cleaned and then kept wet with a fresh solution of the product for several minutes to sanitize the surface.  This can create a slip hazard that needs to be addressed.  Routine sanitization of all floors and surfaces is not generally considered necessary.



Are schools required to replace unapproved vacuum cleaners?

Products

OGS expects schools to use their existing vacuum cleaners until they wear out or otherwise need replacement.  At that point, they should follow the OGS Green Cleaning Guidelines and choose from the list of approved vacuum cleaners on the OGS Green Cleaning Product List Web page.



Do the Guidelines for Green Cleaning cover school buses? If cleaning buses requires the use of "green" cleaning products, are contracted bus services also required to utilize such products to clean buses?

Products

 Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 does not cover the use of cleaning products in school buses.  However, schools that are trying to be more environmentally friendly should consider using and/or requiring the use of "green" cleaning products in their buses.



Do the OGS Guidelines apply to hand sanitizing lotions or wipes?

Hand Sanitizers

No. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHSs) are not hand-cleaning products and are not included in the OGS Guidelines and Specifications.  ABHSs can effectively reduce the harmful microorganisms on hands and are an acceptable alternative for hand disinfection in the absence of traditional soap and water hand-washing facilities.  When considering the use of ABHSs, school officials should remember that these products are not a substitute for proper hand washing.  Proper hand-washing techniques using soap and water remove 99% or more of harmful microorganisms from hands and remove soils and contaminants, such as lead.  The steps for proper hand washing are:

  • Adjust water to a comfortable level and wet hands.  Dispense a small amount of soap into the palms of the hands creating a lather.
  • Using as much friction as needed, thoroughly and vigorously clean all surfaces of hands including between the fingers for 20 seconds. 
  • Pay attention to the nails and nail beds by rubbing the nails of one hand across the palm of the other, creating enough friction to clean underneath the nails. 
  • Rinse the hands under running water, being sure to hold the hands in a downward position. 
  • Use paper towels or warm air blower to thoroughly dry the hands. 
  • Using the same paper towel, turn off the water supply.



If hand sanitizing lotions or wipes are used in a school, what precautions should be taken?

Hand Sanitizers

The decision to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHSs) lies with each school and is not affected by the OGS Guidelines and Specifications.  The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies ABHSs as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and, as with any drug, their use can have benefits as well as possible adverse effects.  When making the decision to use ABHS products, schools should consider the following:

  • ABHSs are not cleaning products, rather they sanitize skin surfaces.
  • Soil on hands will actually reduce the effectiveness of ABHSs. 
  • ABHSs can cause skin dryness, irritation, or rashes.  If used, a product should be selected that contains an emollient or a moisturizing lotion or cream should be provided.
  • Alcohol is volatile and may reach levels in the air that are irritating.  This is particularly true when large numbers of individuals are sanitizing their hands at once.  If individuals use more of a product than is recommended, and/or if the product is accidentally spilled, this also may raise the alcohol levels in the air. 
  • ABHSs are flammable.  Static electricity, other sparks, or open flames can ignite alcohol on hands.  As long as the hands remain wet with the product, the risk of flame ignition exists. 
  • ABHSs can damage building materials when dispensers leak or the product is accidentally spilled. 
  • ABHSs can add to the solid waste disposal costs of the district and be a flammability hazard if not disposed properly. 
  • Many types of ABHS wipes are made of synthetic fabrics and are not biodegradable.
  • School children should not use ABHS without the direct supervision of an adult.



Hand sanitizer products include a label warning to "keep out of reach of children". Does that mean they should not be used by children?

Hand Sanitizers

The FDA classifies alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHSs) as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs just like Tylenol, sunscreen lotion, toothpaste, etc.  All OTC drugs are required to have Keep out of the reach of children' on their labels [21CFR330.1(g)].  The warning is not designed to prohibit the use of OTC drugs by children, but is intended to caution that children only use OTC drugs with adult supervision.



Does the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHSs) in schools reduce absenteeism?

Hand Sanitizers

The evidence is not definitive.  Measurement of reduced school absences as a direct result of hand sanitizer use is difficult because intervention studies tend to mix the use of hand sanitizer products with other factors such as general hand hygiene education, more total hand hygiene effort per day, and increased teacher supervision of hand hygiene.  A number of studies have attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of such interventions and tend to show reduced rates of absenteeism compared to not using hand sanitizers.  However, the actual amount of reduction that can be attributed directly to the use of the hand sanitizer product itself as opposed to the other factors is uncertain.  Similar benefits might be obtained by more frequent and careful hand washing with plain soap and water.



Are hand washing products that make antimicrobial claims referenced in the OGS Guidelines?

Hand Sanitizers

New York State adopted an existing standard for hand cleaners and hand soaps that were jointly developed by Green Seal and Ecologo (GS-41/CCD-104 Standard).  The standard notes that the hand cleaner/hand soap products must "make no antibacterial, disinfecting, antiseptic or sanitizing product claims." This joint standard was completed by Green Seal and Ecologo in June 2006.  OGS maintains an updated list of approved hand cleaners and soaps on its Approved Green Cleaning Products page.



What goal is hoped to be achieved by using environmentally preferable cleaning products?

Products

The goal of using environmentally preferable cleaning products is to reduce, as much as possible, exposure of employees, children, custodial workers, visitors and other building occupants, along with the environment, to potentially harmful chemicals and substances used in the cleaning of state agency facilities.



What Related Rules and Guidelines are not superseded by the Legislation on green cleaning?

Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

The Legislation on green cleaning does not supersede or change existing health, labor, education and environmental regulations related to cleaning and maintenance practices and disposal of hazardous chemicals.  Thus, when evaluating cleaning programs, schools should consider products and practices that comply with the legislation.  However, in certain locations (e.g., food service areas) and for special circumstances (e.g., blood spills) different products and practices may be needed to satisfy the requirements of existing public health, labor, education and environmental conservation regulations.  Please refer to Section II Related Rules and Guidelines of the Green Cleaning Guidelines and Specifications for Schools.  Please Note: The list provided in the Guidelines may not include all relevant federal, state and local laws regarding cleaning and maintenance practices.



Where can I find information about New York State OGS Procurement Services Group Contracts?

Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

New York State OGS Procurement Services Group Contract Information is located at www.ogs.state.ny.us/psg/defaultitpur.html.
For information specifically related to OGS Procurement Services Group Green Purchasing, go to: http://www.ogs.state.ny.us/purchase/GreenPurchasing.asp and access the link to the Green Cleaning Products.  On the OGS Green Cleaning Product List, the Procurement Services Group has identified which products are available from Preferred Sources and which products are available from centralized contracts.   OGS anticipates this list will be supplemented periodically and prospective buyers may want to refer to this web page for additional information and updates. This web page also provides a link to the OGS Environmental Services Unit Green Cleaning website.



Where can school districts find training, guidance and technical assistance concerning the Green Cleaning Law? 


Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 (School Green Cleaning Product Law)

1) nysogsesu@ogs.state.ny.us - This is a mailbox for questions concerning the school legislation.
2) http://www.ogs.state.ny.us/purchase/GreenPurchasing.asp - This is a website that addresses purchasing questions.
3)  Interactive Web Based Training Program.  This is a voluntary web based training program on green cleaning.  This training program is available for state agencies, New York State school districts and any other interested parties.



As a member of my building's community, what can I do to reduce the spread of communicable diseases?


Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

Behaviors that limit the spread of disease, such as personal hygiene, are one of the most important factors in preventing the spread of disease.  You should stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading your illness to others.  Also, frequently wash your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of the elbow, and limit close contact with other people.



What is the difference between standard and enhanced green cleaning efforts in a facility?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

Standard green cleaning efforts maintain a facility's agreed upon levels of clean, the levels of clean established by the facility's green cleaning team. Enhanced green cleaning efforts implement specific policies and procedures designed to limit the spread of disease.  These policies and procedures may require increased cleaning frequency of high touch surfaces, incorporating the limited use of disinfectants, and modifying levels of clean so staff can target specific areas for cleaning.
 
Enhanced green cleaning is one component of a disease prevention program that includes a combination of controls to limit disease spread which include administrative (e.g., staggering lunch break schedules to minimize crowding, suspending classes or meetings, monitoring student health and sending ill persons home) engineering (e.g., automatic doors, electric hand dryers, motion sensing light switches), and behavioral controls (e.g., cough etiquette and hand hygiene).



Why might an enhanced green cleaning program be necessary?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

Enhanced green cleaning is an environmental control implemented to limit disease spread.  During an outbreak of a disease that can be spread by touching contaminated items or surfaces (i.e., indirect contact transmission), enhanced green cleaning may help to limit spread of the disease.



How does enhanced green cleaning help reduce the transmission of communicable disease and is it effective in preventing the spread of disease?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

Enhanced green cleaning helps reduce the transmission of disease by removing pathogens from surfaces.  Enhanced green cleaning adds to other controls of disease spread such as behavioral changes (cover coughs and sneezes, staying home when ill, washing hands, etc.), administrative controls (policies and procedures), and engineering controls (physical changes in the facility).



What should be considered when deciding to initiate enhanced green cleaning?


Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

Each school district should have its own process for deciding to initiate enhanced green cleaning.  Some important factors to consider when deciding to implement enhanced cleaning include:

  • The amount of illness within the community due to a communicable disease;
  • If the disease spreads easily by indirect contact (contact with contaminated surfaces);
  • The rate of illness in building occupants since certain building populations (e.g., kindergarten and elementary children) may have higher rates of illness than others and may warrant enhanced green cleaning in specific areas.
  • The rate of absenteeism;
  • If school nurses are becoming more concerned about the number of people requiring their care;
  • The capabilities of janitorial staff to accomplish enhanced tasks;
  • The availability of products necessary to launch an enhanced program;
  • Administrative (e.g., staggering lunch break schedules to minimize crowding, suspending classes or meetings, monitoring student health and sending ill persons home)  and engineering controls (e.g., automatic doors, electric hand dryers, motion sensing light switches), that can be implemented in addition to enhanced green cleaning; and
  • Recommendations from public health departments.



Who has the authority to initiate enhanced green cleaning?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

Each school district must decide who will authorize the initiation of enhanced green cleaning.  Each facility should have a green cleaning team consisting of representatives of the facility's community (e.g., administrators, teachers, parents, school nurse, school council, custodial staff etc.) to help support and initiate the switch.  The school or state Health and Safety Committee should include representatives of these groups and may be able to help develop or enhance the green cleaning program.  The team should develop an enhanced green cleaning plan, hopefully through reaching a consensus on enhanced policies and procedures and when they will be implemented.  The team may also manage implementation of the program and can act as a unified voice for the entire community.



When should a facility develop an enhanced green cleaning plan, who should prepare the plan, and what should be part of the plan?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

A standard green cleaning plan provides the foundation for cleaning and maintenance activities in a facility.  It describes the frequency, required time, and products and equipment needed for specific cleaning activities and procedures.  An enhanced green cleaning plan should be developed by the facility's green cleaning team when the standard green cleaning plan is developed - before a communicable disease outbreak occurs in the community.



Will a school be notified that it needs to develop and/or implement an Enhanced Green Cleaning Program?


Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

No. The authority to decide to develop and/or implement an enhanced green cleaning program
rests with each school district or facility manager.  School districts should develop these plans
as a part of a comprehensive disease prevention program.



How is an enhanced green cleaning program implemented?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

When planning an enhanced green cleaning program, the school district and green cleaning team should consider conditions that would indicate the need for enhanced cleaning and establish the components of the enhanced program.  Components may include modifications to the facility's levels of clean, focused attention to frequently touched surfaces, selective use of sanitizers or disinfectants, and other policies or procedures.  The team dictates when the enhanced program is initiated and who is responsible for implementation of its components.



Who oversees the implementation of enhanced green cleaning?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

The school district and facility green cleaning team oversees implementation of an enhanced green cleaning program.  Assessment of the enhanced green cleaning program is important to its success and includes visual examination of surfaces to determine whether they meet the established level of clean and documentation that the procedures of the enhanced program (such as more frequent cleaning or disinfection of high-touch surfaces) have been followed.  A trusted building community leader should be selected to perform and document the assessment, and to communicate results to the community to assure them that the enhanced program was implemented.



Is there an approved list of cleaning products for use in enhanced green cleaning?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

Yes.  All green cleaning programs rely on the use of environmentally sensitive cleaning products and high performance cleaning equipment.  An approved list of environmentally sensitive cleaning products and vacuum cleaners can be found on New York's Green Cleaning Program website.  Sanitizers and disinfectants are not included in the approved list of green cleaning products.  However, if the use of disinfectants and sanitizers is determined to be appropriate for enhanced green cleaning efforts, selected products should be registered pesticides with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the United States Environmental Protection Agency and should be effective against the pathogen or pathogens of concern.  Consult your local health department, the New York State Department of Health or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for recommendations related to the particular type of disease outbreak that is occurring.



How do I know if enhanced green cleaning activities are being conducted in my building?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

The school district administration or facility's green cleaning team should communicate activities of the green cleaning program to the building community.  For information on how green cleaning activities will be communicated to the building community, contact your school district or facility management.



How is the cleanliness of a building determined?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

Cleanliness is determined by a standardized metric called the "Levels of Clean," which rates the amount of soil and debris on surfaces.  The acceptable levels of clean for different building areas are determined by the facility management and green cleaning team. 

The five custodial service levels of clean in New York State Office of General Services' green cleaning training courses are: 

  • Level 1 - Orderly Spotlessness
  • Level 2 - Ordinary Tidiness
  • Level 3 - Casual Inattention
  • Level 4 - Moderate Dinginess
  • Level 5 - Unkempt Neglect

The facility's selected levels of clean may need to change during a disease outbreak to allow more cleaning effort to be focused on high touch surfaces.  Changes to levels of clean during outbreaks should be identified by the green cleaning team during the planning/development stages of the green cleaning program. 



What role does disinfection play in enhanced green cleaning?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

Disinfectants and sanitizers are not often required.  However, they may be helpful as part of an enhanced green cleaning program during disease outbreaks.  Even during disease outbreaks, sanitizers and disinfectants are not intended for use on all surfaces.  Their use should be targeted specifically to surfaces that are touched often, such as door handles, handrails, telephones, etc.  To determine the need or appropriateness of sanitizer/disinfectant use, application methods, disease characteristics, potential for the disinfectant to affect people or damage surfaces and other factors should be considered by the facility's green cleaning team.



What are considerations for stopping enhanced green cleaning operations and returning to standard green cleaning?


Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

When planning an enhanced green cleaning program, the facility's green cleaning team should identify when standard green cleaning activities will be resumed.  Return to standard cleaning activities should be dictated by the same considerations used to determine when enhanced cleaning should be initiated.  Before returning to standard facility green cleaning, a trusted community spokesperson should inform the building community that enhanced cleaning has been completed and is no longer required.



How can I get trained to do enhanced green cleaning?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

The New York State Office of General Services (NYS OGS) provides on-line training for Enhanced Green Cleaning through New York's Green Cleaning Program website.  On this site you can find training courses and many other tools and resources to develop and implement green cleaning programs.



Where can I get more information on enhanced green cleaning?



Enhanced Green Cleaning Guidance to Reduce the Spread of Communicable Disease

An excellent resource for green cleaning information is New York's Green Cleaning Program website.  This website contains online training courses on various aspects of green cleaning, as well as policies, best practices, frequently asked questions, and lists of approved green cleaning products.  The New York State Department of Health or local health departments can also be consulted regarding green cleaning and communicable disease prevention. 



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