Developments in State Policy
Cleaning products are important for maintaining a sanitary environment in schools. However, chemicals in cleaning products may be hazardous to the environment and to the health of students, maintenance workers, and other school staff. "Green cleaning” reduces environmental and health risks by selecting alternative, environmentally-sensitive products, by applying these products properly, and by implementing maintenance practices that minimize exposure to cleaning products. Over the past several years, many school districts have begun to adopt green cleaning programs and practices.
State Laws. Increased press coverage, outreach, and advocacy on green cleaning practices have piqued the interest of state legislatures. This policy brief describes policies from eleven states and the District of Columbia that have been adopted in recent years with the goal of advancing green cleaning purchasing and practices in schools and reducing exposure to chemicals. Other states may also have policies that facilitate green cleaning -- for example, in 2017, California enacted a new law requiring manufacturers of specified types of cleaning products sold in the state to disclose certain chemicals used in the products, and requiring employers to provide that information to their employees.
The policies described below vary considerably. Most of the laws require schools to use green cleaning products, but they differ in how they establish criteria for meeting this requirement. Laws in New York and Illinois, for example, direct the state to adopt guidelines and specifications that schools must use in purchasing green cleaning products. In Connecticut and Iowa, schools must use products that meet third-party certification standards and/or are approved by the state. Maryland law, in contrast, leaves it to each school district to adopt its own specifications for purchasing green cleaning products. And two state laws (Maine and Missouri) do not mandate green cleaning, but rather direct the state to develop voluntary green cleaning guidelines that school districts may elect to use.
Last updated: May 2021
Watch for updates to this page as new policies are enacted.
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