JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING GREEN CLEANING PRODUCTS IN SCHOOLS.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Sens. McKinney, Duff, Kane, Looney
Reps. McCluskey, Klarides, Reed, Godfrey, Bye, Lambert, Wright, Villano
REASONS FOR BILL:
Support for the bill comes from a host of organizations and people committed to the use of safe cleaning products in schools, and in the wake of a similar effort to phase out the use of toxic cleaners in state buildings.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Representative Lonnie Reed supports the bill. She testified that it is now possible to obliterate germs and disinfect surfaces by using a growing number of proven products that are safer for people and friendlier to the environment. This should be done to help alleviate the growing concerns about the consequences of inhaling or absorbing powerful compounds as they circulate through ventilation systems and radiate from every nook and cranny of a well-scrubbed school.
Jeanne Milstein, Child Advocate from the Office of the Child Advocate supports the bill. She testified that 25% of cleaning chemicals used in schools are toxic and can significantly contribute to indoor air pollution. They also contain neurotoxins, carcinogens, reproductive toxins and asthmagens that put the health and safety of the state's children, teachers, staff and custodians at risk.
The Connecticut Department of Administrative Services (DAS) opposes the bill. The bill would require DAS to create separate guidelines for use only by local and regional boards of education. This would be an unprecedented and unusual task for DAS, since DAS is charged with awarding and administering contracts for executive branch agencies. Also outside of the current scope of DAS authority is the requirement to prepare a list of vendors who sell environmentally preferable product that meet the standards established by a certified independent third party, provide free training, and offer discounts through bulk purchasing agreements. The tasks extend far beyond DAS procurement unit's current duties and DAS currently does not have the expertise or resources to undertake such responsibilities.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) supports the bill. Mark Waxenberg states that there is no longer a debate on the necessity of good indoor air quality in our public schools. Applying standards that are uniform and still flexible for school districts is key to the implementation of any green cleaning program.
The City of Middletown Department of Health supports the bill. Louis Carta states that it is now time for our state government to take action to reduce exposures to toxic chemicals that cause cancer, learning disabilities, and other adverse health effects.
The Connecticut Association of School Nurses supports the bill. They state that the chemicals contained in conventional cleaners expose children, custodial staff, and other building occupants to carcinogens, respiratory irritants, asthmagens, and ingredients toxic to the central nervous system, reproduction, developmental systems, and internal organs.
The Sierra Club supports the bill. Martin Mador states that addressing this issue in state level legislation is both appropriate and necessary. Children's growing bodies are far more susceptible to toxins and contaminants than adults. Our highest priority should be protecting their health to enable them to excel academically.
The Connecticut Federation of School Administrators, AFSA – AFL-CIO supports the bill. Roch J. Girard states that the “green movement” is the wave of the future. Educators have no greater charge than the safety, welfare, and health of students, parents, staff and the general public who use our schools on a yearly basis.
The American Lung Association supports the bill. They support the practices that promote the purchase and use of low toxicity chemicals in our schools. A green cleaning program is a cost-effective way to protect the health of students and school employees. Training in the use of “green” products is essential. Establishing a green cleaning program will assure that schools are both clean and healthy.
The Connecticut Public Health Association (CPHA) supports the bill. They urge passage of the bill to ensure that our students, who are most vulnerable to the adverse health effects to chemical exposures from cleaning products, have the same protections as our state workers.
The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) supports the bill. They state that ensuring human health and environmental safety are significant priorities. They recommend a state-level template in order to avoid a patchwork-quilt of rules and requirements.
The Ecological Health Organization, Inc. (ECHO) supports the bill. They state that passage of the bill would decrease the risk factor of entering a school building for people with multiple chemical sensitivities, creating a safer environment for them to participate in school activities, adult education programs, sporting and community events.
Clean Water Action Connecticut supports the bill. They state that cleaning products exemplify how United States chemical laws have not kept up with the science of health impacts, particularly low doses and chronic exposures. Currently, cleaning product manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients they use. Many cleaning products now used in schools contain toxic chemicals linked to asthma, reduced fertility, cancers and risks to the heart lungs, kidneys and immune system.
Toxic Action Center supports the bill. They state that all employees and attendees at CT schools have the right to a healthy environment and the right to breathe clean air. An effective green cleaning program is easily implemented. This transition should occur as part of the school's indoor air quality program.
The Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety & Health (ConnecticOSH) supports the bill. They believe passage of the bill would protect our children and the custodians of our schools. Michael Fitts states that we should take the lead and show the world that we care more about our children and workers than anyone else and we are taking the steps needed to prove it.
Joellen Lawson, founder of The Connecticut Foundation for Environmentally Safe Schools (ConnFESS) supports the bill. She advocates the phase-in of safer, affordable, and effective cleaning products certified by an independent third-party, and the implementation of best cleaning management practices.
Nancy Simcox, Research Industrial Hygienist at the UConn Health Center supports the bill as an approach that encourages and promotes the use of safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. A green cleaning program can reduce chemical exposures to children, teachers, staff and custodians. The program also helps the environment.
David Horn, Policy Student at UConn School of Social Work supports the bill. He states that his father has suffered from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, possibly caused by chlorinated and carbon tetrachloride organic cleaning solvents. Research shows there may be a health risk in educational facilities which do not have best practices established for cleaning and construction work.
Joyce Acebo-Raguskus, Chair Diesel Cleanup, Milford Environmental Concerns Coalition supports the bill. She states that every school should confront the reality that the use of toxic chemicals for cleaning is contributing to illness and sick days in children, teachers and custodians. She also states that toxic chemicals become more heavily concentrated in an occupied school building, one of the most densely populated indoor spaces.
Kathleen Henry with the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice supports the bill. She states that schools are very densely occupied spaces which may have poor indoor air quality. Children eat and breathe more in proportion to their size than do adults. This makes them especially vulnerable to the poor indoor air quality to which the use of toxic cleaning products contribute.
Kerry Swift, with ConnFess supports the bill. She states that her daughter developed asthma while attending school. The symptoms were much milder when away from school. The Brookfield Schools took measures to use better cleaning practices and her daughter's asthma disappeared.
Mark Overmyer-Velazquez supports the bill. He is a father who wants to eliminate dangerous chemical exposure to all children.
Martha Kelly, a grandmother and tutor supports the bill. She state that the use of green cleaning products in the context of an integrated indoor air quality program can contribute to the health and good attendance of students, teachers and staff.
Jordanna Hetz supports the bill.
AFT Connecticut, (AFT, AFL-CIO) supports the bill.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities opposes the bill. They laud the intention of the bill but see it as another unfunded mandate to local and regional school districts. They believe that decision should be left to the discretion of the local purchasing agents to determine the best products for their circumstances.
New Haven Public Schools opposes the bill. They have some questions about the third party certification in Sec. 1 (c) as opposed to a local health department. They also have an issue with the posting of indoor air quality reviews. They request that Sec. 2 be revised to the posting on the Board of Education website, as opposed to each school's individual website.
The Consumer specialty Products Association opposes the bill. Though they support the concept they have issues with the bill as written. They state that the bill as drafted could unintentionally degrade public health by discouraging the use of some essential disinfecting products. An amendment should be added to clarify the scope of the proposed program to ensure that products for which no standards exist are not excluded from safe products lists.
The CT Foundation for Environmentally Safe Schools opposes the bill as written. They suggest the elimination of possible fiscal impacts by deleting the vacuum cleaners from line 8, and giving schools the option of mailing or sending home with students, the green cleaning policy. Also, allow posting of the policy on Boards of Education websites.
Reported by: Dianne Slopak
Date: March 18, 2009