Vermont legislature passes school “green” cleaning bill

For immediate release
January 12, 2012

Charity Carbine-March, VPIRG, 223-5221 x24

Safer products to be sold to schools

On Thursday, the Senate gave final approval to S.92, a bill that requires manufacturers and distributors of cleaning products to only sell environmentally preferable cleaning products to schools.  The bill will now make its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

“This legislation will create safer and healthier learning environments in our schools,” said Charity Carbine-March, environmental health advocate for Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG).  “Children in classrooms across Vermont will soon be breathing easier.”

Conventional cleaning supplies can contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to asthma, cancer, and other negative health effects.  These chemicals can pollute indoor air and impact the health of students and staff. Advocates and other experts agree that environmentally preferable cleaning products are just as effective and affordable as conventional supplies.  In fact, Vermont’s state buildings have already transitioned to “green” cleaning products as a result of the Clean State Program created by an executive order signed by Governor Douglas in 2004.  In addition, many schools in Vermont have voluntarily made the switch to safer products.

“There are clear benefits to using green cleaning supplies,” said Carol Westinghouse, President of Informed Green Solutions, a non-profit organization that helps schools transition to safer cleaning products.  “After making the switch, some schools in Vermont have reported fewer instances of asthma cases, nausea, and headaches, and others have even reported saving money on the cost of cleaning supplies.”

“This bill will protect generations of Vermont children from the effects of toxic chemicals.  With asthma at epidemic proportions, any actions we can take to remove asthma triggers from our schools will make a difference,” said Cindy Murphy, a school nurse at Main Street Middle School in Montpelier.  “It’s a community’s responsibility to provide optimal health and safety for school age children whose bodies are not fully developed and, therefore, are most effected by toxic chemicals. Green cleaning policies serve as a strong educational tool for staff and students.”

S.92 was brought to the brink of passage during last year’s legislative session.  The bill began in the Senate and was passed on the floor by a vote of 29 to 0.  The bill was then passed by the House (92 to 38) and was further amended by the Senate on the last day of session.  The House took the bill up for immediate consideration upon the return of the legislature this year and gave their final nod of approval just last week.


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