SMMUSD HDQTRS — Classrooms and other facilities in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District are being cleaned with environmentally-friendly chemicals, officials with the district said Wednesday.

These new green cleaning products and procedures will be phased in as the inventory of current products is depleted, and are expected to be fully implemented district-wide by the end of the school year.

Before selecting these new cleaning products, the district specified that they must be certified to have a reduced impact on human health and environment by third-party organizations like EcoLogo and Green Seal. The products that were ultimately selected incorporate the latest in innovative green chemistry, and they have been tested for cleaning efficacy and approved by the district custodial team, district officials said.

This new cleaning product selection is the culmination of a process that began when City Hall suggested the district apply for a California Department of Health grant for testing of green cleaning supplies.

In addition to the ongoing endorsement from the city of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment, this grant was also supported by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a national environmental research and advocacy organization, and two other nonprofits — the Green Schools Initiative and the Green Purchasing Institute.

With this grant, the district will receive training for custodial, facilities, and purchasing staff on the hazards of conventional cleaners, and how to select and purchase safer, more environmentally preferable cleaners.

A major goal of this initiative has been to improve overall indoor air quality in district facilities by taking steps to minimize exposure of students, staff, and building occupants to environmental triggers that can exacerbate asthma.

Studies have shown that using green cleaning products emit far fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are known to potentially trigger asthmatic reactions — and since 20 percent of the district’s enrollment currently has asthma related conditions, it is the goal of the district to try to control as many variables that can trigger a reaction as possible, district officials said.

In addition to the third-party certifications, two of the three new cleaning products have also been certified to be “Clean Air Choices Certified — Cleaners” by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which recognizes products with ultra low VOC content.

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