Green Cleaning Gets National Attention in Influential CDC Report


From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2012 School Health Policies and Practices Study (SHPPS) now includes a chapter on the physical school environment—specifically discussing green cleaning—for the first time ever. Over the years we’ve watched green cleaning grow from a niche practice to an environmental buzzword, steadily gaining recognition for the important role it plays in education. We love learning about how our nation’s schools are making changes big and small when it comes to green cleaning. And that’s why it’s so exciting to see these stories finally addressed at the national level.

What Does this Mean for Green Cleaning?

SHPPS is a national survey that assesses school health policies and practices at the state and district levels. It is conducted periodically, and the latest version was released at the end of last year. The study itself is often used to guide policies and practices at the state, district and school levels to promote student health and academic achievement. So a new chapter on the physical school environment elevates green cleaning to a prominent level in our national discourse. From here, school districts and policymakers alike will be even more inclined to include green cleaning in their programs.

What Did the Study Find?

The physical environment chapter of SHPPS addresses key issues related to green cleaning including indoor air quality, pest control, use of hazardous materials and professional development for custodial staff. The study found the following changes between 2006 and 2012:

  • The percentage of districts with an indoor air quality management program that included seeking approval before using cleaning pesticides and chemicals increased from 35.4 percent to 47.7 percent.

  • The percentage of districts that funded or provided professional development for custodial staff increased from 27.4 percent to 41.4 percent.

  • Nearly all of the 83.9 percent of districts that used an outside company for pest management used a one that was certified for practices that reduce the use of pesticides.

  • Purchase of low-emitting products for use in and around the school environment increased from 17.5 percent to 30.2 percent.

What’s Next for Green Cleaning?

These numbers imply that more and more schools are moving toward a healthier future. We are heartened to see attention rising for issues such as integrated pest management, indoor air quality, the reduction of hazardous chemicals and professional development for custodians. Now that these topics are on the CDC’s radar, the conversation has potential to become even more encouraging. Since the SHPPS is conducted regularly, it will be an excellent way to benchmark nationwide progress toward greener, healthier school environments.

What can your school do to get on board?

If you’re ready to reboot your green cleaning program, or implement one for the first time, be sure to check out Healthy School Campaign’s Quick + Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools. These five simple steps can get you started on a path to make a real difference when it comes to your learning environment, helping to ensure that the CDC’s next study has even more positive changes to report.

Learn more about the study

Join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the CDC on Thursday, February 27, 2014, from 1 to 2 p.m. EST for a webinar, School Health Policies and Practices Study Results. You’ll learn more about the study’s key findings as well as policies being used across the country. The webinar will also discuss state initiatives and potential funding, training and technical assistance opportunities that can help you.