Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Spt-Oct 2016 Contents 20 INCLEAN September/October 2016
The NON-SLIP solution
Can be used internally
on floors in showers, change
rooms, bathrooms, and
externally around swimming pools
Can be applied on surfaces that are constantly
submerged under liquids, with excellent adhesion
Shower-Grip can be applied to Ceramic Tiles,
Polished Concrete, Terrazzo and Vinyl
Use on shower floors in change rooms, toilets,
around pools and public areas. Internal and
Resistant to xylene, butoxy ethanol, isopropyl
alcohol, clorex, engine oil, brake fluid, glacial
acetic acid & many more
SALES 02 8338 0000
By Nora Potter*
In the 25 years that I’ve been in the
cleaning supply industry I’ve seen a
massive change in the way people look
at cleaning. I’ve watched the shift to be
more environmentally safe and health
conscious as a result of property group’s
quest for Green Star Ratings, LEED,
NABERS and now the new WELL
Building standards. WELL building is
about human health and wellness in buildings, something that was
not even considered up until recently.
The use of cleaning chemicals and disinfectants can contribute
to high levels of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) in a building
and can cause short and long term health issues ranging from eye,
nose and skin irritation to known causes of cancer. This occurs
from one of three ways chemicals can enter our bodies – inhalation
(breathing), skin contact and ingestion (through mouth).
Not too long ago commercial cleaners accepted that chemicals and
all the associated problems were just part of working in this industry.
Back then, there were no alternatives.
But in the past 25 years I’ve seen the likes of asthma, dermatitis,
headaches and other reactions to cleaning chemicals skyrocket
amongst industry workers.
One of my very first revelations regarding health issues for cleaners
came about from a discussion with a group of housekeepers who spent
many hours of their day in confined spaces. There were no windows or
ventilation. I asked the group a simple question – what did they dislike
about working with chemicals? One by one they started to tell me
they hated working with the fumes, while one lady who was pregnant
protectively held her stomach and said she had to wear a mask.
There was also cases of headaches, asthma and dizziness. Taking
antihistamines and pain killers was not uncommon. But it’s not just
the cleaners that suffer but also the general public. Hotel staff have
told me that requests from hotel guests for chemical free rooms are
becoming more common as some guests are highly sensitive and
react to chemicals.
But the story that really hit home was the mother of two
children in Canberra who was desperate for a solution as her
children were having reactions to the chemicals used to clean
their school. Even to touch a table cleaned with chemicals could
give them an anaphylactic reaction. The previous schools had
assured the family that green chemicals were being used but even
those labelled 100 per cent ‘natural’ had fragrances in them that
would trigger nose bleeds.
There are two things that concern me. Firstly the chemical
companies are aware of the hazards that their product ingredients
can cause but disclosure is not essential. The chemical giants are
aware that some of their fragrances are known carcinogens but still
want to claim the solution is their ‘trade secret’.
I am hoping that the Globally Harmonised System of Classification
(GHS) that comes into play by January 2017 will at least reveal the
many hazardous chemicals being used today. What is safe today may
not be deemed safe in 2017. Chemical manufacturers have a choice
of changing their formulas or simply placing a hazardous sticker on
their bottles and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
Currently there are litigation cases around the world as a result
of chemical mix ups and injuries because of chemical misuse in the
workplace. Could this be the way we are heading in Australia?
Secondly, all anyone needs to do is visit a site and take a look
at the spray bottles. What I have seen time and time again are
chemicals poured into incorrectly labelled bottles, or spray bottles
that aren’t even labelled. Worst of all is the cleaners who mix
chemicals to make them ‘stronger’, which is extremely dangerous.
I’ve seen up to seven different chemicals on a cleaner’s cart and
been able to reduce it to two.
This country is a leader in so many other areas but worlds behind
the rest of the world when it comes to standards and regulations in
Just like smoking is now banned in public places, I believe that in
the future so too will be the use of toxic chemicals and fragranced
Chemical-free cleaning for health, not profit
“Look after people’s health
by eliminating toxic
chemicals and that naturally
helps the environment.”
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