Greening Your Cleaning Fact Sheet
- Ingredients in traditional cleaners used in schools can harm your child’s health and the health of staff, visitors and peers.
- The World Health Organization estimates that 19% of all cancers are environmentally related.
- Common cleaning chemicals can cause headaches, asthma, burns, permanent eye damage, major organ damage, and even cancer.
- Children are especially affected by cleaning products, as kids breathe and play closer to the ground, where contaminants settle. They also have frequent hand-to-mouth activity, giving them many opportunities to ingest contaminants in their environment.
- The World Health Organization estimates that 30% of all buildings experience indoor air quality (IAQ) problems. Cleaning products can be a key contributor.
- Manufacturers are not required to list ingredients that make up less than 0.1% of listed carcinogens or 1% of listed OSHA chemicals. Even these small amounts can harm human health.
Glass Cleaners: Common Ingredients Known or Potential Health Effects
Isopropyl alcohol -
- Can irritate skin and eyes. Acute Health Effects – can irritate and burn skin and eyes in addition to nose and throat irritation. Overexposure can cause headache, drowsiness, confusion, loss of coordination, unconsciousness and death.
- Ammonia -
- Can irritate skin, eyes, nose and throat.
- Higher exposures can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
All-Purpose Cleaners: Common Ingredients Known or Potential Health Effects
- Can irritate eyes, nose, throat and mouth.
- Acute Health Effects – can cause headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion and passing out.
- Chronic Health Effects – may damage the developing fetus and may damage the testes (male reproductive glands).
Bathroom Cleaners: Common Ingredients Known or Potential Health Effects
Sodium hypochlorite/chlorine - Bleach
- Can affect breathing. Contact may severely irritate and burn the skin and eyes with possible eye damage.
- Can irritate lungs causing coughing and/or shortness of breath. Higher exposures can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), a medical emergency, with severe shortness of breath.