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Janitorial Product Evaluation for Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Spring 2003

by Jason Marshall, Heidi Wilcox and Carole LeBlanc in partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Environmentally Preferable Products Procurement Program

Environmental Criteria

Concern over the effects of potent chemical cleaning agents has led to the development, testing, and acceptance of an extensive array of effective alternative cleaning products that are environmentally preferable.

Environmentally preferable products are becoming more available to handle a full spectrum of commercial, industrial, and residential cleaning needs. These products have less of an impact on the environment than their traditional counterparts because they are generally less toxic and contain lower concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone depleting chemicals (ODCs), and carcinogens. Environmentally preferable cleaning products also may be offered in recycled-content, recyclable and/or reduced packaging

State Contract

The Operational Services Division (OSD) has awarded contracts to firms who sell environmentally preferred cleaner product lines. The contracts require that cleaning products offered meet five mandatory criteria:

  •  They contain no ingredients from the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Act list of chemicals
  •  They contain no carcinogens which appear on lists established by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the National Toxicology Program, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or chemicals which are defined as Class A, B, or C carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency
  •  They contain no ozone-depleting ingredients
  •  Compliance with the phosphate content levels stipulated in Massachusetts law
  •  Compliance with the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content levels stipulated in Massachusetts law

In addition to these five mandatory criteria, OSD also identified additional factors of concern including the following:

  •  Massachusetts Right-to-Know Act Chemical List; Products are favored that have less hazardous ingredients as evaluated against the list
  •  Hazardous Waste: Products are favored which did not require disposal as a hazardous waste
  •  Skin and Eye Irritation: Products are favored that are less irritating
  •  PH: Products are favored that have a pH closer to neutral
  •  Flash Point: Products are favored that do not ignite easily
  •  Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content: Products with low VOC content are favored
  •  Biodegradability: Biodegradable products are favored
  •  Alkylphenol Ethoxylates: Because research indicates that APEs are used in detergents that do not degrade completely in the environment, and that their biodegradation products may be endocrine disruptors, products are favored that do not contain APEs
  •  Phosphate Content: Massachusetts law allows some products to manifest phosphate content above 0.5%. Products in this category are favored is they have reduced phosphate content
  •  Dyes and Fragrances: Products are favored that offered without fragrances or dyes
  •  Packaging: Products are favored if they are available with recycled packaging, packaging that is easily recycled, available as a concentrate and is they are available using a system of container collection and refilling (reuse)
  •  Company Environmental Impact: Contractors are favored that can demonstrate efforts that they, their distributors, and their manufacturers have made to minimize the environmental impact of their operations

Laboratory Evaluations

The laboratory evaluated products from seven vendors. Each vendor supplied cleaners that were to be used in the bathroom, on glass and as an all purpose cleaner. Each product was used at the vendor recommended concentration and sprayed onto the surface to be cleaned. Products were considered successful if 85% of the soil was removed during the cleaning process. The following information reveals the concentrations that were found to effective.

  •  Substrates: 3" x 4" Fiberglass and 2" x 4" Ceramic, Chrome, Plastic, Glass and Painted Steel Coupons
  •  Contaminants: SSL Soil 1 Bathroom Soap Scum; SSL Soil 2 Glass Soap Scum; SSL Soil 3 Hucker's Soil
  •  Cleaning Method: Gardner Straight-line Washability Apparatus
  •  Analytical Methods: Gravimetric, accompanied by Photography
  •  Purpose: To determine the product's performance for OSD's EPP Procurement Program as a Bathroom, Glass and All-Purpose Cleaner

The performance scores below reflect the results of the tests conducted by the Toxic Use Reduction Institute's Surface Solution Laboratory (SSL) at University of Massachusetts Lowell for the cleaners specified.

The RFR required that the general purpose cleaners remove at least 80% of the soil and the bathroom cleaner remove at least 75% of the soil. The results and scoring significantly exceeded both requirements for all manufacturer product lines for all hard-surface cleaners tested.

For further information on the environmental criteria, please contact:

Operational Services Division (OSD)
 One Ashburton Place
 Boston, MA 02108-1552
 Phone: (617) 720-3356
 Fax: (617) 727-4527
 E-mail: Marcia.Deegler@osd.state.ma.us

More about the Results