Why Mandate Green Cleaning? Aha …

March 27, 2007

by Claris Olson, HSC Environmental Health Specialist

Earlier this month, while exhibiting at the American Association of School Administrators annual conference on education in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to speak with several school superintendents about green cleaning. One of them was Wendell Chu, the superintendent of the Fire Island Union Free School District in Ocean Beach, N.Y.

He told me that before they started their green cleaning program, a teacher with chemical sensitivities used to always get sick whenever heavy cleaning was done. Since they started the green cleaning program, there have not been any reported absences or problems due to the cleaning products.

He also remarked that they have had information on green cleaning for a long time, but superintendents have little time to focus on it with so many other issues they are working on. It took New York’s green cleaning legislation to make them do it. But once they implemented the program, there was a sudden “Aha”‘ moment.

“It made so much sense, there was no reason to not do it before,” said Chu, “but it took the legislation to make us start thinking about it and implementing our program.”

As advocates for green cleaning, we often hear the argument that if green cleaning is so great, and some schools are already doing it anyway, why should it be mandated? Thank you, Superintendent Chu, for answering that question.