The use of eco-friendly cleaning chemicals is quickly and steadily on the rise, replacing the old and popular tradition of using harsh, conventional chemicals. Eco-friendly products not only leave your facilities clean and fresh but are also known to save costs and for being less harmful to the human, animal and environmental health. They are made of natural, biodegradable, and non-toxic ingredients which resonate excellently with the concept of sustainability as discussed in this previous article The Role of Microfiber Cloth in Sustainability/
On the other hand, conventional cleaning chemicals can be costly, unhealthy and negatively affect the environment. They are stuffed with toxic ingredients that could cause fatal health problems to users. For example, most carpet cleaners contain naphthalene, which is known to cause cataract formation and liver damage over prolonged exposure, and perchloroethylene, which is listed by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a probable carcinogen that causes dizziness, headaches, kidney dysfunction and neurological damage. According to a report by the World Health Organization, exposure to this chemical increases the risk of contracting breast cancer, leukaemia and skin cancer. Most bathroom cleaners contain chemicals like bleach, phosphoric acid or sodium hydroxide which are corrosive and irritate or burn the skin and eyes. Air fresheners commonly contain formaldehyde, a strong carcinogenic substance that irritates the skin, eyes or throat and can cause allergic reactions, chest tightness, asthma or pulmonary edema in sensitive individuals.
The toxic chemicals in conventional cleaning products are also pollutants that contaminate our environment. The EPA categorizes many of these chemicals as “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) and they include phosphorous, ammonia and nitrogen. When these chemicals are washed down our drains during cleaning they make their way into the sewer system, pass through water treatment facilities that are not equipped to filter them all,and eventually end up in rivers, lakes and oceans where they pose a danger to marine life and later our drinking water and health.
A 2002 study by the U.S Geological Survey found traces of VOCs in 69% of streams across the U.S and in 65% of 2,401 domestic wells in the country. Chemicals like phosphorous and nitrogen contribute to nutrient-loading in water bodies, affecting the water quality. Laboratory studies have shown that alkylphenolethoxylates, a common surfactant ingredient in cleaners, cause adverse reproductive effects on some wildlife exposed to polluted waters.
Furthermore, VOCs have a negative impact on indoor air quality and contribute to outdoor smog. A statement by the EPA claims that the typical indoor air quality is 5 times worse than outdoor air and one of the major contributors to this are the toxic cleaning chemicals used indoors. Research has confirmed that VOCs react with other chemicals in the air to form harmful by-products like ozone and fine particulates which inhibit breathing and cause lung problems. Ozone high in the atmosphere protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet rays but on ground level it mixes with fine particulates to make breath-choking smog. Chemicals like bleach leave a foul stench lingering in the air making your stay in a facility uncomfortable. Additionally, these products are packaged in non-recyclable materials like plastic which accumulate on landfills, and the leftover VOCs in these containers can be hazardous in disposal sites and to the surrounding vegetation and animals.
On the contrary, eco-friendly cleaning products meet stringent standards to ensure they are environmentally preferable. They are made of gentler, carefully chosen ingredients that don’t release water-polluting toxins. They have fewer smog-producing chemicals which help minimize the negative impact on global climate change and ozone depletion. They contain natural, aromatic substances and essential oils whose scents are harmless to the human body and air. Many green products also use recyclable packaging that minimizes waste.
Obviously, the toxic ingredients in conventional chemicals require that cleaning operatives wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as a safety and control measure to protect themselves against the possible effects of being exposed to them. Meanwhile, eco-friendly chemicals are harmless and require less caution when using, thus cutting costs for PPE and relieving you of the burden of their expenditure.
Due to their abrasive and corrosive nature, conventional chemicals lessen the life span of surfaces by causing significant wear and tear to them.Eco-friendly chemicals, however, are mild and can be used regularly without damaging the texture of surfaces or dissolving paint. As such, your surfaces and units are longer lasting and you’re saved from replacement and maintenance costs.Moreover, when using eco-friendly chemicals there is less potential for accidents such as fires or explosions, unlike traditional chemicals which are highly flammable and combustible. Besides, research has proven that eco-friendly products are as effective, if not more effective, at tackling various cleaning chores as their traditional alternatives.
Lastly, embracing eco-friendly cleaning products not only provides you an opportunity to save costs, health and the environment but is also an added advantage when it comes to securing deals and contracts in business.The world is going green at a rapid speed and more and more customers are eager to do business with companies that care for their health and that of the planet. In such a competitive and evolving business climate, you are either forced to go green or be left behind.