Multnomah County, OR Green Cleaning Policy

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Multnomah County, OR, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 9/8/05

Source File:


Adopting a Green Cleaning Policy for Multnomah County Facilities

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Finds:

a. Multnomah County has a responsibility to retain the beneficial functions of cleaning products while preventing negative impacts to human health and the environment from those products.

b. Previous action by Multnomah County with the adoption of Sustainability Principles, Sustainable Procurement Strategy, and a High Performance Green building policy supports transition to sustainable cleaners for County facilities.

c. Sustainable cleaning products are preferred by many public agencies because of reports showing that traditional cleaning products:

  • Often contain toxic ingredients linked to asthma, birth defects, and cancer (Hazardous ingredients comprise approximately 25% of the total weight of industrial cleaning products);
  • Can cause janitor and building-occupant illnesses (On average, six of 100 janitors in the U.S. are injured on the job);
  • Can contaminate indoor air and local waterways with pollutants (Cleaning products are a leading culprit of poor indoor air quality, which can be up to five times worse than outdoor air).

d. County agencies, including Facilities, Sheriff’s, Health, and Central Stores, participated in a review of Custodial Cleaning Products as a part of the Multnomah County Sustainable Procurement Strategy, and recommended phase-in of sustainable cleaning products which:

  • Have a low impact to the environment;
  • Are safe for human health and least toxic for the application needed;
  • Effective for application needed and cost efficient;
  • Require a limited number of products to clean successfully.

e. County agency findings about currently-used cleaning products included the following:

  • Multnomah County spends $38,000 annually on 18 different custodial cleaning products;
  • Several products, even general purpose cleaners, contained toxic disinfecting ingredients that are linked to illnesses such as cancer, endocrine disruption, nervous system toxicity, respiratory ailments, and skin sensitization.
  • Many products also contribute to environmental harm, including smog, fish toxicity, hazardous air pollution, and are not readily biodegradable.

f. Potentially hazardous disinfectants may be needed in specific facility types to treat aggressive contamination outbreaks where the use of general purpose cleaners has not been shown to be effective in controlling the contamination. Such use of these types of disinfectants will be limited to the specific contamination and only employed by workers trained in the use of the particular disinfectant(s).

g. Potential cost efficiencies may be found in reducing the number and volume of cleaning products needed to clean facilities effectively, as well as in using concentrated products where possible.

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Resolves:

1. To reduce exposure of building occupants and custodial personnel to potentially hazardous chemical contaminants by adopting the following Green Cleaning Policy that requires:

(a) Phase-in sustainable general purpose cleaners and disinfectant cleaners by the end of 2006, and sustainable floor care and laundry cleaning products by the end of 2007, using standards developed by Green Seal as guidance.
(b) Suppliers of cleaning products will provide training to the County’s custodial service providers on proper use and handling of cleaning products. Facilities and Property Management will oversee this training opportunity for custodial service providers.
(c) County departments and janitorial service providers will use cleaning products provided through Central Stores. Central Stores will track progress by annually summarizing cleaning products used and their application until phase-in of sustainable cleaning products is complete.
(d) Potentially hazardous disinfectants may be used to treat aggressive contamination outbreaks only where the use of general purpose cleaners has not been shown to be effective in controlling the contamination; any such use of these types of disinfectants shall be only by workers trained in the use of the particular disinfectant(s).
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