The Surprising Culprit Polluting Our Nation’s Classrooms


The products that we bring into our schools — from cleaning chemicals to flooring materials to computers — really matter. We’ve stressed the importance of reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and helping the environment with cleaning purchases, but this rule can, and should, be applied to every purchasing decision your school makes. Some of the most prevalent types of equipment in the classroom today are computers, printers, electronic whiteboards and digital projectors. Many people don’t realize that these products can have a negative impact on indoor air quality, health and the environment.

A Guide to Greener Technology Purchases

That’s why this article from UL Environment is such an important read. UL makes the strong case that school officials need to weigh sustainability and health in addition to speed, price and hard drive space when purchasing new technologies. The article also outlines some of the hidden dangers of these types of equipment — to indoor air quality, student health and the environment.

It warns: “Without careful attention, the addition of electronics to the classroom can flood the building with harmful, potentially toxic chemicals that can trigger headache, malaise, distracting odors or even asthma attacks. A smart choice of sustainable products may include those that have been tested and certified to have reduced chemical emissions.”

Informed Decisions Matter Most

This article is a reminder of how much can be affected, both negatively and positively, by the products we bring into the classroom. We agree with UL’s excellent advice for purchasers like focusing on Energy Star equipment, choosing products with low emissions and partnering with e-waste vendors to dispose of outdated technology in a safe manner.

As technology just keeps moving, it’s a scramble to keep up. Making the right choices means constantly reading up on what’s available and what’s potentially harmful. It also means finding trusted sources to help you navigate the marketplace. Searching UL’s Sustainable Product Guide for GREENGUARD Certified, low-emitting products is a good place to start identifying electronics (and other products) to introduce into your classrooms. And the resources section of our website is full of information on finding greener, healthier products and equipment for your schools.

UL is a generous sponsor of Healthy Schools Campaign’s Green Clean Schools program. We are grateful for their support and the work they do to promote education and healthy cleaning in schools and other indoor environments across the nation.