Cleaning and maintenance activities may expose employees to products containing ingredients that are toxic, flammable, or harmful to health and the environment. Follow these tips to reduce waste and use these products more safely:
- Prevent waste by buying products in bulk, and choose concentrates where possible. Alternative delivery systems may eliminate the need for handling and discarding individual bottles, jugs, or drums of a product used in large quantities.
- Identify product hazards and choose the least toxic product to do the job. Read the labels and look for the signal words — CAUTION, WARNING, DANGER, POISON. Carefully read and follow the instructions on how to use any product. More is not better — you won't get twice the results by using twice as much.
- Use and discard properly. Improper use or long-term exposure to some of these products can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, or allergic reactions. There may be wider environmental impacts if these products are discarded down the drain or released improperly into the air.
- Educate employees about possible hazards. Under New York State Labor Law, manufacturers are required to submit a Material Safety Data Sheet for any product containing a toxic substance. Make sure your employees are familiar with the properties of the products they use.
- Purchase environmentally friendly alternative products such as citrus-based cleaners, but also read the labels on these products for usage cautions.
- Use pump sprays instead of aerosol cans, or use liquid or paste forms of cleaning and maintenance products. Pressurized aerosol products emit unnecessary volatile organic chemicals and produce a fine mist that can be easily inhaled and absorbed into the lungs and bloodstream. Many of the propellants used with aerosol products, such as butane or propane, are flammable and can cause an explosion if the container is punctured or stored at temperatures above 110°F.
- Local Law 123 of 2005 creates a pilot program to asses the feasibility of using green cleaning products in City Agencies.
Visit reducing toxics to learn about the toxic substances you might be using, their potential health effects, and possible alternatives. Or click on the specific item below:
glass and window cleaner
toilet bowl/urinal cleaner
helpful links about reducing toxics
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