Girl Planting seeds
dimusHackensack, NJ, February 20, 2006 – New York City’s new “Greening Our Cleaning Act” is an important first step for improving indoor air in city buildings, and the City now has an opportunity to forge higher standards on cleaning products for the health of New Yorkers, and especially children, says national environmental leader Deirdre Imus.
“I applaud the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg for bringing the impact of toxic cleaning products into focus -- and now it’s time to raise the bar,” she said. “The Act focuses on an existing industry standard that unfortunately has not kept pace with the latest advances in commercial cleaning products.”
“If New York City is serious about controlling costs while improving the health of its workers and the public, it must shift toward the goal of non-toxic or least-toxic alternatives,” she said.
Ms. Imus is the founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology® -- part of Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC), a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit corporation in Hackensack, N.J. The Environmental Center represents one of the first hospital-based programs whose specific mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent exposures to environmental factors that may cause adult, and especially pediatric cancer, as well as other health problems with our children.
Greening the Cleaning®
The Environmental Center operates the award-winning Greening the Cleaning® program, one of the center’s most successful educational and outreach programs to date. More than 60 healthcare facilities, businesses and schools have implemented the program since 2001, all with direct savings in cleaning costs. In New York, this includes hospitals, schools, government authorities and corporations.
Greening the Cleaning® means eliminating to the greatest extent possible all cleaning agents containing hazardous ingredients and replacing them with environmentally responsible products that utilize natural or naturally-derived ingredients, and ingredients from renewable resources whenever possible.
A household line of Greening the Cleaning® products is now, available through 100% of after-tax profits go to Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer.
Ms. Imus is also co-founder and co-director of Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer, a n authentic 4,000 acre working cattle ranch in northern New Mexico, which provides the experience of the American cowboy to children suffering from cancer and various blood diseases, and to the siblings of children who have been victims of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Spirit of the Law
“Least level of toxicity means you start at the top using cleaning products derived from all natural or naturally renewable ingredients, whenever possible. When that’s not possible, as is the case for disinfectants and some floor care products, you step down to the next tier. That’s what we mean by using least-toxic alternatives,” Mrs. Imus said.
She points out that green cleaning goals should be consistent with both efficacy and cost effectiveness. “Environmentally responsible products that work are already on the market.” she said.
Eliminating or reducing toxic ingredients to “the least level of toxicity” was an emphasis of Ms. Imus’ testimony to the City Council’s Environmental Committee last year. “That goal should now be the spirit of the law,” she said.
The Act, which became law in late December, establishes a committee to launch a pilot program to evaluate green cleaning products, with a final report due in 2009. “Decision makers responsible for cleaning products in city buildings don’t have to wait three years for the results of a city pilot program,” she said. “They should know they have the green light to take the initiative now.”
Ms. Imus noted that the City would support greater competitiveness if it allows independent laboratories to certify new cleaning products, and avoid annual recertification unless a formulation changes.
In a January letter to Ms. Imus, Environmental Committee Chairman James F. Gennaro thanked her for inspiration on the law, and noted it “will substantially ‘green’ the cleaning and other custodial products purchased and used by City agencies and their contractors.” She testified in support of the measure in February 2005.
Under a N.Y. state law passed last August, all schools in the state will begin using “Green Cleaning” alternatives beginning in the 2006-2007 fall school term as soon as existing inventories are depleted.
Raising Awareness
Deirdre has been raising public awareness about the potential hazards of cleaning chemicals for five years, and in 2004 she reached out to New York Governor George Pataki. In January 2005, Governor Pataki issued a “Green Cleaning” Executive Order after recognizing Ms. Imus and her work on behalf of children’s health in his State of the State Address.
Following the advice of Ms. Imus, former New Jersey Governor Richard J Codey signed a ‘Green Cleaning’ Executive Order before leaving office in early January. Ms. Imus is calling on other governors and governing authorities throughout the country do the same.
The Environmental Center advised HUMC on environmental materials and processes that are contributing to superior indoor air quality for its new Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion. It is one of the first environmentally responsible “green” hospitals in the country.
Children are the Reason
Deirdre says children must remain a focal point. “The facts are shocking. Children’s cancer is still the leading cause of death by disease. We’ve seen a six-fold increase in attention deficit disorder, a condition almost unknown a generation ago.
An appalling diet has produced an epidemic in childhood obesity, and diabetes is at nearly epidemic proportions. Respiratory problems such as asthma are the leading cause of absenteeism in schools. One in every 166 children in this country is diagnosed with autism. One of every six kids is diagnosed with a learning disability. And the list goes on.”
“I believe many of these health problems can be prevented if our children weren’t grossly exposed to toxins,” she said.
Hackensack University Medical Center is a nationally recognized healthcare organization offering patients the most comprehensive services, state-of-the art technologies, and facilities. A leader in providing the highest quality patient-centered care, Hackensack University Medical Center has been recognized for performance excellence encompassing the entire spectrum of hospital quality and service issues.
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