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Cleaning Products & Processes: Partnering for Healthier Indoor Environments

Air Quality Sciences, Inc. (AQS), long recognized as the leading expert in evaluating volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from building products and furnishings, today announced that the company is expanding its product evaluations offerings to include commercial cleaning products and processes.

"The cleaning industry has made commendable and significant strides in its efforts to create and responsibly use environmentally friendly cleaning products and deep cleaning processes, but more needs to be done to reduce VOC levels in indoor environments," said Anthony G. Worthan, MPH, president and chief operating officer.

Recent studies have demonstrated the benefits of dust control and deep cleaning, but other studies have shown that the very products and processes that are used to keep indoor environments clean may also contribute to indoor pollution. As a result, product manufacturers, building owners, facility managers and commercial cleaning companies are still at risk for product liability and personal injury litigation associated with exposures to VOCs. A key concern is the health impact of mixtures of VOCs found in cleaners is not yet completely understood. Researchers believe there may be synergistic or additive effects. Numerous studies have indicated that individual VOCs and mixtures of VOCs can lead to progressive eye, nose and throat irritation. The marketplace also is beginning to make the connection between VOCs and potential ill effects. As a result, demand is increasing for products than emit low levels of VOCs.

"Reducing the VOC levels is a challenge that can be overcome, but it will require cooperative efforts among purchasing agents, the cleaning industry and maintenance personnel to ensure low-emitting products are formulated, purchased and properly used," said Mr. Worthan.

At this time, however, many cleaning products, even those certified as "green" or environmentally friendly, report VOCs by weight or content, not by emissions. These are two very different measures, which cannot be correlated.

"Measuring VOCs by weight or content does not give a clear picture of how much of a particular VOC or the total amount of all VOCs (mixture) from a product may be getting into the air. The only way to be sure a product emits low VOCs is to actually measure VOC emissions," Mr. Worthan said. The most reliable and scientifically proven way to test for product emissions utilizes environmental chamber technology, which is at the core of the AQS Product Evaluation Program.

"This method allows a product to produce emissions similar to the way the product would emit in a home, office or school. The collected data is then mathematically modeled to determine exposure concentrations produced by the product in many different indoor environments," Mr. Worthan said.

AQS pioneered environmental chamber testing technology more than 15 years ago and actively participated in establishing the ASTM International methodology used to test products. The company also employs experts who can help manufacturers modify their product formulations to be the best performers and the best at protecting the indoor environment and building occupants. To meet market demand and reduce product liability risks, product manufacturers will increasingly need to demonstrate their technology leadership by going to the next level, namely testing and monitoring VOC emissions to ensure their products emit low levels of VOCs and potentially reformulating those products that do not comply with testing limits.

"AQS stands ready to partner with the cleaning industry to create and maintain healthy indoor environments by offering the most complete and most sensitive testing of products," Mr. Worthan said. For more information, AQS has published "Cleaning Products and Processes: Partnering for Healthier Indoor Environments," which is available free of charge on the AQS Aerias IAQ Resource Center at under the Premium Content section.

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