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Green Cleaning in Southern, NH

Cleaning is crucial to maintaining a healthy indoor environment. Cleaning provides obvious benefits, such as the removal of dust, allergens, and infectious agents. However, many cleaning products contain chemicals associated with eye, skin, or respiratory irritation; headaches; or other human health problems, including cancer. Some cleaning products release dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the indoor air. VOCs and other chemicals released when using cleaning supplies can contribute to chronic respiratory problems and allergic reactions. Studies have linked exposure to chemicals from cleaning supplies to occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Oftentimes, conventional cleaners come in concentrated forms. Some of the concentrated commercial cleaning products are classified as hazardous. This creates potential human health and environmental risks if the products are handled, stored, or disposed of improperly. Greener cleaning and disinfecting are effective strategies at lowering exposure to VOCs, toxins, and asthma triggers in the indoor environment, thereby, reducing the health risks to employees and residents from conventional cleaners and disinfectants.

Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals in workplaces and homes is a high priority for EJ communities in southern New Hampshire (NH). Targeting asthma triggers, such as conventional cleaning products, is critical because of the high rates of asthma events related to uncontrolled asthma in the Manchester and Nashua communities, as compared with the rest of NH.

NEWMOA partnered with the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) and the NH Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS) in 2022 on a pollution prevention (P2) Project to educate janitorial employees and residents in the environmental justice (EJ) communities of Nashua and Manchester about the benefits of and methods for adopting green cleaning products and practices. The Project goals are to build capacity within these minority and low-income communities to improve indoor air quality through P2 in cleaning and disinfecting.

The Project Team, led by NEWMOA staff, are developing educational materials, and conducting outreach, technical assistance, and educational activities. The NH-based partners will use the educational resources from the Project to educate businesses and residents in the target communities and other areas of the State. The Project will serve as a model for EJ areas in NH and the rest of New England.

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NEWMOA Contact
Andy Bray