"Clean and Green": Complying with accreditation standards
New, innovative biotechnology has changed the way institutions look at cleaning
By Paul Sheldon
The American Correctional Association’s new “Clean and Green” Policy on Environmentally Responsible and Sustainability-Oriented Practices recommends that correctional institutions “reduce pollution through the use of non-toxic, non-caustic chemicals, liquids, and powders.”i In addition to increasing safety and reducing costs, use of less-toxic, less-caustic products complies with this new policy and its related standard.
“Green cleaning” includes efficient, effective, and non-toxic solutions and products designed to improve sanitation and provide a safer, more healthy working and living environment for staff and inmates. Leading manufacturers and correctional suppliers, such as CorrectPac, EcoLab, and Spartan Chemical offer low-cost, safe alternatives to more traditional toxic and caustic cleaning systems. Federal institutions are required to provide non-toxic cleaning protocols (Executive Order #13148, Section 205)ii, as are all state institutions in California.iii
New, innovative biotechnology has changed the way institutions look at cleaning, to include killing and preventing mold, bacteria, and viruses using compounds and liquids that are non-toxic to humans. In addition to cleaning, these germicidal, anti-microbial cleaners and surface treatments interfere with the ability of mold, bacteria and viruses to reside and grow. If they cannot colonize and grow, most such organisms die.
Many manufacturers of “green” cleaning products still recommend “elbow grease” – frequent wiping reduces the growth of mold, bacteria, and viruses. Other manufacturers say the most effective anti-microbial surface treatment products remain on surfaces, are continuously active and effective for long periods of time, and eliminate any pathogen that comes into contact with treated surfaces. The EPA recommends both.
Using non-toxic cleaning solutions, paints and finishes reduces health risks from phenols, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic chemicals. iv
Antimicrobial surface treatments are applied via spray or fog to treat hard-to-reach areas that are missed by wiping or mopping, or inaccessible, such as behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices, etc. This mitigates the risk of the spread of infectious diseases by surface contact.
Frequent touch-points, such as bed rails, telephones, hand rails, elevator buttons, door knobs, light switches, gym equipment, and other surfaces where treatment may be mechanically removed, will require re-cleaning or reapplication as part of a regular cleaning routine.
Ozonators, chlorination, and ultraviolet treatments sanitize water. Antimicrobial laundry solutions can be added to the wash cycles of any commercial or residential washing machine and will mitigate the risk of the spread of infectious diseases by killing organisms that transfer to clothing.v Antimicrobial laundry solutions remain on fabrics for up to 50 washes and control odor-causing bacteria from perspiration.
New, innovative germicidal, anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-bacterial disinfectants and surface treatments do not use poisons or harmful chemicals that can lead to the development of resistant strains. These products and techniques eliminate 99.999% of microbes, spores, and pathogens in minutes, remain on surfaces, are long lasting, provide continuous protection, and interfere with the ability of microbes and pathogens to attach to surfaces.vi
New “green” methodologies, protocols, and products can be implemented to increase success in mitigating the risk of toxicity and the spread of infectious diseases. When implemented properly, there will be significant, substantial savings to the institution or program related to medical costs for treatment and employee absenteeism. Improvement of environmental health will increase the health of inmates and employees, and increase the comfort of all those who are obligated to spend time in correctional institutions.
Paul Sheldon, M.A. is a Senior Advisor with Natural Capitalism Solutions, a Boulder, Colorado-based non-profit, sustainability-oriented consulting group (www.NatCapSolutions.org) and a founding member of the American Correctional Association’s Clean and Green Committee.
iv For more information on less toxic paints and finishes see:
vi See www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/healthdis.html and http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/mrsa/