Families and school children may soon breathe easier thanks to EcoLogo, one of North America's most recognizable eco-labels and part of the UL global network. The EcoLogo Program has revised its environmental standard for hard surface cleaners that limits products containing asthmagens or chemicals known to trigger or aggravate asthma, a disease affecting 25 million Americans and one in 10 school-aged children.*
The revised standard strengthens the health and environmental requirements for certification of hard surface cleaners, specifically limits the use of asthmagens and excludes substances that are harmful to humans or the environment. These include ammonia, formaldehyde and phthalates—hazardous chemicals commonly found in cleaning products.
"This standard sets a vital benchmark to help identify hard surface cleaning products that excel in protecting health and the environment," says Dr. Angela Griffiths, executive director of the EcoLogo Program. "We hope that purchasers and consumers will recognize the level of leadership and innovation displayed by manufacturers that have achieved EcoLogo certification for their environmentally preferable goods."
This broad-reaching standard covers a variety of products used at home, in schools and in other institutional and commercial environments. It includes general purpose, bathroom and glass cleaners, as well as dish detergents, degreasers and cleaners for cooking appliances. Beyond household cleaning products, the standard also includes industrial, vehicle and boat cleaners.
Certification to the EcoLogo Program can provide a competitive advantage for manufacturers as growing numbers of governments, institutions and purchasing groups continue to implement environmental purchasing policies. In 2010, for example, New York State revised its guidelines for purchasing environmentally sensitive cleaning products. It now requires schools to use cleaners that meet stringent criteria, such as EcoLogo's Hard Surface Cleaning standard.
Limiting asthmagens is an important addition to this standard and the EcoLogo Program will continue to research the issue to ensure that future revisions keep up to date with current research on asthmagens.
The EcoLogo Program develops standards designed to reduce environmental impacts by specifying criteria for safer chemicals and materials; use of recycled and recyclable materials; and minimizing pollution generated by the production, use and disposal of these products and their packaging. Manufacturers interested in obtaining the new Hard Surface Cleaners certification can submit a product application to EcoLogo to be evaluated by a third-party auditor.
This standards development process was supported by Jack Geibig, director of the University of Tennessee Center for Clean Products, leaders in the development of environmental product and material standards.
For more information about EcoLogo's newly revised standard, Certification Criteria Document 146, visit www.ecologo.org, click on "Our Standards" and choose CCD-146 for Hard Surface Cleaners.
* "CDC Vital Signs—Asthma in the U.S." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 4 May 2011. Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services (OSELS). 15 July 2011 www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/Asthma.