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Green Clean Program

Capitol Complex/Ankeny Labs Green Cleaning Initiative

In January 2008 the Department of Administrative Services began converting buildings on the Capitol Complex and at the Iowa Laboratory Facility in Ankeny to using ‘green’ cleaning products. This initiative is possible through a partnership with Iowa Prison Industries, which supplies the cleaning products.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ‘green cleaning’?

Green Cleaning is an interior finish maintenance program designed to reduce indoor air pollution by using less-toxic cleaning chemicals and equipment that is more effective at capturing particulate matter.

Why use green cleaning products?
  • To protect the health of the building occupants.
  • To protect the health of the cleaning staff.
  • To protect the environment: air, water and atmosphere.
  • Improved productivity.
  • Reduce liability.
  • Save money.
How do green cleaning products help the environment?

Every year more than 50 billion pounds of chemicals are used in order to process and manufacture approximately 6 billion pounds of finished-product chemicals used in facility cleaning. Some of the chemicals contain dangerous components that can seriously damage the environment. In addition, many of these chemicals are made from non-renewable resources.

Green cleaning products work in two ways. First, they rely on cleaning chemicals that do not contain many of the highly toxic constituents that are common in cleaning products. Second, green cleaning employs advanced technology, such as microfiber dust mops that are more effective at gathering dirt, soil, and other particulate matter. By utilizing safer cleaning chemicals and modern equipment, green cleaning releases fewer harmful particulates and toxic substances into the environment.

What are some of the common misconceptions about green cleaning products? And what’s the truth?

Misconception: Green products are more expensive.
Truth: Green products can be competitively priced to be essentially cost-neutral when compared to their traditional counterparts. For this particular program, DAS is getting the products at very competitive prices, and in some cases for less than what we were paying for conventional cleaners. Also, green cleaning products are safer to users and building occupants, reducing liability and health costs therefore saving employers money.

Misconception: Green products are less effective.
Truth: Green cleaning products can be as effective as traditional cleaning products. The products being used for state facilities offer uncompromising performance, providing the same cleaning strength as conventional products.

Misconception: Green products have an unpleasant odor.
Truth: Green cleaning products use less perfumes and dyes that are harmful to the environment. By using less perfumes there is little to no odor.

Misconception: Can conventional cleaning products really be dangerous?
Truth: Here are some things to consider:

  • One out of three cleaning products contains ingredients known to cause human health or environmental problems. (“Purchasers Buy Safer, Effective, and Affordable Commercial Cleaning Chemicals,”

  • A study conducted by the Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project found that the average janitor uses 48 pounds of hazardous chemicals per year. (Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project, “Southern California Janitorial Chemicals Safety Project,” January 2002,)

  • Some of the ingredients in conventional cleaning products can cause cancer, mutate genetic material, sensitize the skin, and cause chemical burns. The effects of these chemicals can be serious. A review of workers’ compensation data from Washington state found that 6 out of 100 janitors are injured by chemicals every year; the most common injuries are serious burns to the eyes or skin. (Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project, "How to Select and Use Safe Janitorial Chemicals")

  • Another major concern is that many cleaning chemicals contain respiratory irritants. Even short-term exposure to cleaning agents can trigger asthmatic attacks. (C. E. Mapp, V. Pozzato, V. Pavoni, and G. Gritti, “Severe Asthma and ARDS Triggered by Acute Short-Term
    Exposure to Commonly Used Cleaning Detergents,” European Respiratory Journal 16, 3 (September 2000): 570–72.)

  • Janitorial staff are even more at risk than other building occupants. A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that janitorial workers and firefighters experience the highest rates of occupational asthma. (F. Reinisch, R. J. Harrison, S. Cussler, et al., “Physician Reports of Work-Related Asthma in California, 1993– 1996,” American Journal of Industrial Medicine 39, 1 (January 2001): 72–83.)

  • All building occupants are affected by the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of a facility. Research tells us that improving IEQ will improve performance and reduce absenteeism and building-related health problems. (P. W. Wargocki, D. P. Wyon, and P. O. Fanger, “Pollution Source Control and Ventilation Improve Health, Comfort and Productivity,” in Proceedings of the Cold Climate HVAC Conference 2000, pp. 445–50, Sapporo, Japan, November 1–3, 2000; and M. J. Mendell, W. J. Fisk, M. Petersen, et al., “Indoor Particles and Symptoms among Office Workers: Results from a Double-Blind Cross-Over Study,” Epidemiology 13, 3 (2002): 296–304.) Cleaning chemicals and processes affect the quality of the indoor air.

Where do the green cleaning products come from?

The products being used by DAS for state facilities are being purchased through Iowa Prison Industries. IPI utilizes TerraGreen Products, which are mixed at the women’s correctional facility in Mitchellville.

For more information about IPI’s ‘Green Cleaning’ products, please visit the Iowa Prison Industries website.

How do we know these products are really ‘green’?

IPI’s TerraGreen Products are officially certified by the Green Seal organization. Green Seal is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforming the marketplace by promoting the manufacture, purchase and use of environmentally responsible products and services.

To meet IPI’s definition of environmentally responsible products, green products must be:

  • Biodegradable
  • Phosphate-free
  • Free of APEs (alkylphenol ethoxylates) and NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates)
  • Non-flammable
  • Non-toxic
  • Ultra-concentrates
  • In user-friendly packaging
  • Green Seal certified

IPI’s TerraGreen family of products includes six products with environmentally responsible product credentials, five of which are Green Seal certified. The non-Green Seal Certified product is a disinfectant. Currently, according to the EPA, products regulated under FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), including disinfectants, may not display or be marketed with any third-party environmental or health logo, including the Green Seal Certification Mark, because it connotes a comparative statement about the health and safety of the product. However, the disinfectant IPI is offering has a very low Health Hazard rating.

How do we know which cleaning products are really environmentally preferable?

Environmentally preferable chemicals should be third-party certified to verify that they have minimal impacts on human health and the environment. Nonprofit, third-party certification organizations such as Green Seal and Environmental Choice evaluate products to ensure that they comply with a set of efficacy, environmental, and human health criteria. These organizations rely on stakeholder groups that represent industry, human health, and environmental concerns to develop the standards.

What buildings are being converted to green cleaning products, and when?

Every building on the Capitol Complex, as well as the state laboratory facilities in Ankeny were converted to green cleaning products in 2008.