May 30 , 2008

Marvel Group, Inc.


Proflex Products Inc.

General Construction Materials

Staples Contract & Commercial, Inc.




Workplace Furnishings


General Construction Adhesives




Key-Horn, Inc.

Floor Underlayment

Panolam Industries

Surfacing Materials


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2211 Newmarket Parkway
Suite 110
Marietta, Georgia 30067




Cleaning or Contributing?

Today, the marketplace is flooded with different types of cleaning products. The manufacturers of these products are faced with the challenge of creating effective cleaning products for a wide variety of applications that remove indoor pollutants such as dust, viruses, bacteria, particulates, endotoxins, allergens and mold, while not adding more of these same pollutants, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) back into the air.

You may be asking yourself, “What does this mean for me?” Well, if you spend anytime cleaning, or in an indoor environment that has recently been cleaned, you should. Adults in the US spend an average of 20 to 30 minutes a day cleaning their homes. And three million people in the US are employed as janitors, cleaners, maids and housekeeping staff, which represent more than two percent of the working population. In addition, we all spend a significant amount of our indoor time in these environments.

A number of studies have confirmed that dust control and deep cleaning are effective methods for reducing level of viruses, bacteria, particulates, endotoxins, molds and allergens in indoor environments. However, results have also demonstrated that the product and processes used to keep indoor environments clean may also contribute to indoor air pollution. In many cases, VOC emissions from cleaning products and application processes, which building occupants can easily inhale, are the primary cause of concern.

Indoor air contains a plethora of chemicals, particles and anywhere from 100 to 1,000 different VOCs, and people can easily inhale them. Some VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation; cough; headache; general flu-like illnesses; skin irritation; and some can cause cancer. Common VOCs and the types/use of the product found in offices, schools and homes include; fragrance/disinfectants (acetaldehyde), surface cleaners (acetone, butoxyethanol, etc…), orange fragrance (limonene), pine fragrance (pinene), deodorizers (dichlorobenzene) and disinfectants (ethanol), just to name a few.

Given the list above, it isn’t shocking to find out that exposure to VOCs and other sources in indoor spaces can cause building occupants to feel uncomfortable, distracted or sick to the point that it interferes with their ability to work. Additionally, missed work days with reduced activity can cost businesses billions of dollars in lost productivity. Children’s exposure to VOCs from cleaning chemicals and other sources in schools is another major cause for concern. Children’s physiological makeup is different from adults, allowing them to breathe in more air with respect to their body mass. This means that they have greater exposure to indoor air pollutants and are at particular risk of health problems from breathing in VOCs.

As a result, poor indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools places 10 percent (27.5 million people) of the US population at risk for health problems such as coughing, eye irritation, headache, asthma, and allergies. Among those more at risk are the more than six million students who have asthma. Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism and hospitalization in children under the age of 15. It also accounts for an estimated 14 million lost school days and $16 billion in annual healthcare expenditures for both children and adults.

Now that you know why the products you choose to clean your office, home or school make a difference, lets look into how to choose a low-emitting VOC cleaning product. First and foremost, there is a major difference between VOC emissions and VOC content as many products certified as green or environmentally friendly are rated by their VOC content, not their emissions. Measuring a VOC by content (weight) does not give a clear picture of how many VOCs are being released into the air once the product is used. A product may have 10 percent VOCs by weight, which may be low enough to classify it as green or environmentally friendly, but if it is packaged as an aerosol, it will atomize the VOC particles during use, increasing the potential for airborne exposure.

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) offers a green cleaning product standard to assist commercial and consumer users in making more informed decisions and to help manufacturers create better products and application processes. While other standards focus primarily on VOC content, GREENGUARD certification focuses exclusively on VOC emissions from cleaning products and their impact on the air we breathe.

Manufacturers, building owners, facility managers and commercial cleaning companies have made significant and commendable progress in recent years in their efforts to provide and maintain healthier indoor environments. To meet the market demand and reduction of product liability risks, product manufacturers will increasingly need to demonstrate their products’ safety by testing and monitoring VOC emissions.

Continue checking in at <> for further studies and information on cleaning products.

Update from the Summit

5th Annual GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) Summit

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) continues to meet and exceed industry standards with its commitment and growth. In an effort to keep everyone informed about GEI’s accomplishments, its 5th annual summit was held on May 8th in Atlanta. GEI announced that there are over 135 participating manufacturers in both certification programs. More than 165,000 product lines are now GREENGUARD Certified and the certification process serves 25 product industries, which is an increase of seven industries over 2006. Some of the new product industries in 2007 were Electronic Office Equipment, Formaldehyde Reduction Technology, and Nursery Furniture. The GREENGUARD Microbial Resistance Listing Program also started in 2007 and already features over 30 products. This is a one-year listing and is based on ASTM 6329.

Every where you look you’ll see information about ‘going green,’ but what does the flood of ‘green’ mean for eco-friendly companies? Mick Dalyrmple, board member of the USGBC, helped answer that question when he gave a keynote speech on third party certifications and the green washing that is occurring in the advertising world. He went through a number of positives and negatives, from his point of view, on the industry and independent certifications. He also educated listeners on the differing views of recycling being a phenomenon that was started in the last 30 years - he pointed out that many recycling programs happened due to the United States’ involvement in World War II and therefore recycling programs have been going on for at least 60 years.


GREENGUARD Environmental Institute often serves as a resource for publications and media outlets, providing information on various topics that relate to product emissions and indoor air quality. The following represent recent articles/features.

How Eco-Friendly is Lenovo's Eco Series?
Mermet launches new intelligent fabrics for blinds

eBay Ink
Minty Fresh!

"The Green Parent"
Jenn Savedge's new book "The Green Parent" mentions GREENGUARD on pages 131 and 174

Lori Bongiorno's new book, "GreenGreenerGreenest" mentions GREENGUARD on pages 112 and 170

To read these and past articles, visit the Press Room/Articles under the 'About GEI' tab of our website. Read More...

Upcoming Events

In the next few months, GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) will be participating in several events. For more information, please visit the Events tab listed under 'About GEI.'

Neocon World's Trade Fair 2008 (Speaking and Exhibiting)
Chicago, IL/June 9th - 11th, 2008

Louisville Society for Coatings Technology (Speaking)
Louisville, KY/May 20th, 2008

Guardian Summer Show 2008 (Speaking)
Atlanta, GA/June 23rd - 24th, 2008

Greenbuild Expo 2008 (Speaking and Exhibiting)
Boston, MA/November 19th - 21st 2008

For a snapshot of GEI's 2008 events, click on 2008 Calendar under the About GEI/Events tab. We will continue to update this information, and appreciate any feedback from you.

Continuing Education

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) is proud to be a recognized USGBC Education Provider, and provides numerous Continuing Education Courses related to indoor air quality principles.

Healthy Indoor Air by Design
Credits: AIA (1LU), IDCEC (0.1 CEU), CSI (1-ECH), USGBC
Clearing the Air on IAQ: Making Sense of IAQ Standards and IEQ Requirements
Credits: AIA (1LU), IDCEC (0.1 CEU), CSI (1-ECH)
Building Blocks for Healthy Indoor Air
Credits: AIA (1LU), IDCEC (0.1CEU), USGBC
Design to Prevent the Damaging Effects of Mold
Credits: AIA (1LU), CSI (1-ECH)

GEI is taking their Health, Safety and Human Welfare courses on the road to architecture and design firms, industry meetings, campuses and manufacturer showrooms across the country. If your firm or group is interested in learning more about these courses, please send a request to

© 2008 GREENGUARD Environmental Institute