State Requires Schools to Use Green Cleaning Products
(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2005)
A recent vote by the New York State Senate now requires schools to use green cleaning products. The bill, Senate Bill 5435 (S5435), signed into law on August 23, 2005, by New York Governor George Pataki, requires the procurement and use of environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products in schools.
In a press release from Healthy Schools Network, Claire Barnett, Executive Director said, "We are committed to working with the Governor, members of the legislature, education leaders, schools, and parents and personnel to achieve healthier schools for all children."
Stephen Boese, NYS Director, Healthy Schools Network, added "This is a highly cost-effective and environmentally responsible step that will reduce toxics used by custodians in schools and by agencies. It will help improve indoor air quality and promote healthier building operations."
Arthur Weissman, President and CEO, Green Seal, Washington, DC, a national not for profit environmental labeling and consumer education organization, commented, "We applaud Governor Pataki's initiative. It is critical to create uniform specifications that will ensure high quality and environmentally responsible product purchasing, and drive market changes, such as the efforts underway in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and other states."
According to Barrnett, New York State moved to address the greening of schools with funds to replace New York City schools' 300 polluting coal-fired boilers in 1996 with cleaner, energy efficient systems. In 1997, the state enacted comprehensive legislation to improve existing school buildings, including state record keeping systems; in 2000, to reduce pesticide use; in 2002, to seal and remediate or eliminate arsenic-treated wood; and in 2004, to ban highly toxic elemental mercury in schools.
Alarmed by increasing reports of mercury in fish, antibiotics in meat and poultry, hormone-mimicking chemicals in cosmetics, and pesticides in toothpaste ,American consumers as a whole are being driven by health and environmental concerns toward the use of green products, from arsenic-free lumber to pesticide-free pet food (See Daily News). Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine and has been testing products since 1936, recently launched a green-products Web site.