Your home is your “home sweet home,” your kingdom, your sanctuary — whatever you decided to call it. Nothing enters your house without your knowledge. You check the ingredients of everything you buy, making sure that they are free from harmful chemicals, parabens, and the like. You can never be too sure with your child’s safety, even in your own home, and this is the rule of every cautious parent. What more when they go outside.
Depending on your children’s grade level, they will probably spend 50% to 80% of their waking hours in school. More than half of this time is spent in the classroom. Now, would it be distressing for parents if they were not aware of what cleaning chemicals are used by the school? Yes, of course. Their children will be exposed constantly to these chemicals after all, especially if the classrooms are air-conditioned.
What can you do, as a parent, to ensure your child’s safety?
Appeal for Green Cleaning
There is already a program that seeks to address this concern with regards to cleaning materials being used in the school. They take note that not all cleaning products are eco-friendly or safe to use around children. Thus, it is necessary to demand that products used in your child’s school have third-party green certification.
In the United States, the most recognised nonprofit certification system is Green Seal. Since 1992, they have given certification in over 40 categories. Some of the companies which they have certified are Anderson Windows, 3M and Benjamin Moore.
There is also Canada’s Environmental Choice Eco-Logo program, which covers a broad range of companies. They certify companies like Arrow Chemical, which manufactures cleaning products, Hewlett-Packard, the computer and copying giant, and the Sani-Marc Group, which provides towels and tissues. If you need to verify the product listings that have these two certifications, you can check with the Center for the New American Dream.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also provided listings of chemicals that can pose potential risk upon extended exposure. The basis for this is the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). They have databases for new chemicals and Greener products, services, and chemical procurement. Parents should make sure that the schools are following the stated guidelines.
Campaign for Legislature
There are times when school officials, conscious of the budget, will justify the procurement of cheaper chemicals. They would often cite their budget figures and the reason that they have no choice.
In this case, the matter could be escalated to your state’s legislature. There are already states that have successfully adopted this policy through the legislature. Connecticut law, for example, has already stated that no one can use a cleaning product inside a school unless it has passed guidelines on environmental standards. These types of laws will ensure the school’s compliance, and no longer use the budget as an excuse.
There are already numerous ways for parents to fight for their children’s safety. We should be thankful for the vigilant advocacy against toxic chemicals to ensure our children’s safety when they are at school.