Greening The Cleaning

Red Bank School District First To Adopt Program Developed by The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center ®

The Red Bank Borough Public School District is the first to adopt an award winning program – choosing to use the least toxic cleaning products under the “Greening the Cleaning®” program developed by The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center ™, part of Hackensack University Medical Center, a not-for-profit corporation. All profits go toward research to better understand the environmental causes of cancer and to support children with cancer.

Founder/Director Deirdre Imus addressed parents and children at a press briefing at the Red Bank Primary School today. Calling children “our most precious resource,” Mrs. Imus (center) told parents and students Tuesday that their district was leading the way in eliminating environmental hazards and using safer cleaning alternatives.


Amy Goldsmith (extreme right), State Director of the N.J. Environmental Federation and the Clean Water Fund jump started the greening effort, working with the district Facilities Director Jerry Sheeran (not shown). Others in attendance included: NJ Deputy Commissioner of Health James Blumenstock (next to Mrs. Imus), Senator Ellen Karcher (second from left), Assemblyman Michael J. Panter (left), and School Superintendent Dr. John Krewer (not shown). Also pictured are third-graders from the Red Bank Borough Primary School.

Step Toward the Future

Mrs. Imus told the crowd, “The change here in Red Bank is an important first step to a healthy future for school children everywhere.

”Our center is dedicated to the health and well being of our children – not on profit making. Our ultimate goal is to protect children and eliminate toxins wherever possible. With your help, someday we hope to eliminate all the major environmental hazards that our children face.”

She also praised Amy Goldsmith, State Director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation (NJEF) and the Clean Water Fund (CWF), for the district adopting “least toxic pest control methods,” now a N.J. law.

“Greening the Cleaning” means eliminating, where possible, all cleaning agents and chemical substances whose components include toxic materials and replacing them with environmentally-friendly, high-quality, non-toxic cleaning agents.

The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center is now introducing it to schools throughout the state and the New York metro region for the first time on a broad scale. More than 35 healthcare facilities and businesses have implemented the “Greening the Cleaning” program since 2001, all with direct savings in cleaning costs, Mrs. Imus noted.

The environmental center worked with the New Jersey Environmental Federation (NJEF) and Clean Water Fund (CWF) to help bring the program to the district. “We are thrilled to have Red Bank as the first school in New Jersey to convert, and we hope it is the first of many. Children are especially vulnerable to environmental hazards due to their rapid growth, hand to mouth behaviors, and immature immune and metabolic systems,” NJEF/CWF State Director Amy Goldsmith said.

In addition to her role at the NJEF, Ms. Goldsmith is also close to the issue as a parent. She has a son in first grade and a daughter in the full day pre-school (four year-old) program at the Red Bank Primary School.

“When alternative cleaning products became readily available, affordable and effective, the Red Bank Borough Schools jumped at the chance to switch,” said Jerry Sheeran, Red Bank Borough Public School, Facilities Director. “This means that our facility workers, teaching and other staff, and most importantly the children are less exposed to potentially harmful substances.”

The district also is one of the first to adopt ‘least toxic pest control methods.’ The School Integrated Pest Management Act became effective in June and requires these ‘least toxic’ methods in New Jersey public, private and chapter schools, as well as parental notification of chemical applications. NJEF was instrumental in the Act’s passage.

Children at Risk

Most people do not think about schools being a potential health hazard, yet children may be spending most of their waking hours breathing bad air. A school’s choice of cleaning products could be a contributing factor. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), schools are four times more densely populated than offices buildings and indoor air quality is often five times worse than outdoors.

NJEF, CWF and The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center are planning a pilot cleaning program in one of the state’s urban school districts. CWF’s contribution to the Red Bank project was made possible in part through the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other N.J. foundations.

“If we keep our children out of harms way in the early years of growth and development, they might avoid health, learning, and attention disorders later on,” Ms. Goldsmith said. This is the basic tenant of the “precautionary principle,” a common sense approach that promotes the selection of the safest alternatives through informed decision making. (For more info, see

For more information about “Greening the Cleaning,” visit:, or call the Environmental Center at 201-336-8071. For further information about how to green your school district, contact Amy Goldsmith, State Director, NJEF and CWF at 732-280-8988 or via email at

NJEF ( works in close cooperation with CWF (, a 501(c)(3) organization that is a member of Earthshare New Jersey -- a choice in giving through payroll deductions in the workplace.

Hackensack University Medical Center, a teaching and research hospital affiliated with The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - New Jersey Medical School, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state of New Jersey.

The Mission

The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center™ specific mission is to identify, control, and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health. In 2001, the environmental center instituted a hospital-wide "Greening the Cleaning" initiative to replace potentially toxic cleaning products with more environmentally friendly products.

For their efforts, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and Hackensack University Medical Center were awarded The Phillip M. Scanlan Environmental Award from Quality New Jersey (QNJ), and recognized in 2001 by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) with the Environmental Award for Excellence.


close (X)