Cleaning Products and the Environmental Risk


By LUCIE THURMAN – CENTO WRITER

Centre College has a staff of workers who clean our campus daily in order to keep it sanitized and a comfortable living space.

But what exactly are the cleaning products they are using and how do such products effect the environments and the Centre community’s health?

After sitting in the bathroom of the Kappa Alpha Theta house for 45 minutes waiting for our house keeper to arrive for her morning shift, Nancy pushed her cart of cleaning products through the doors.

Nancy shared that, through her custodial training, she learned to break down the sanitization process into steps, separating the chemicals used to polish from those which decontaminate.

This is just one aspect of her job in which she makes adjustments for her own safety when dealing with chemicals and their potentially harmful fumes.

Nancy informed me that the product she uses most in our living space was the disinfectant Virex II 256.

After researching the ingredients present in Virex, I found that its environmental effects, such as reactivity, waste, or fire hazards, are low risk; however there are concerns of respiratory disorders resulting from exposure.

The company of the cleaning product suggests the use of a face shield or gloves for personal protection if good ventilation is not maintained or major spillage occurs.

Nancy claims she wears protective gloves when using the industrial disinfectant but that it is not necessary to wear the face mask because “our bathrooms have windows, are bigger and have good ventilation.”

This brings up an important point, that environment matters. When I lived in a tiny space, such as the dorms in old quad where there is very poor ventilation, the odors of the chemicals used to clean the bathroom were much stronger and potent where the ventilation might not be as good.

There are many factors at play when analyzing our society’s perception of chemical use for sanitation: age, location, lifestyle, financial interest etc.

The bottom line is these products have harmful side effects but they serve an important purpose that many in society deems worth the hazards. Our culture is adapting in that the scent a Glade plug in produces is worth the possible health or environmental risks.

While parties with financial interest influence us to their advantage to a significant extent to prove there is no evidence of the sources being causal to the health effects, there is more to big picture. I know chemicals are bad for me, so then why do I not plan my life around avoiding this potential danger?

Depending on your age, location or lifestyle, people have different perceptions on what health is and how it should be valued.

It is to be recognized that a majority of our society are valuing their decisions based on pleasure and convenience rather their own health, which is significantly alarming.


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