A substance is determined to be toxic by it’s ability to cause damage on a cellular level or even effect the whole body. This damage may be visible, such as a burn or it may be invisible damage, such as organ damage, cancer or memory loss. Most chemicals enter the body via the lungs, the mouth, the skin and the eyes that occur with cleaning supplies, stain and water resistant products. In the office environment people should be especially concerned with exposure to PFCs, or Perfluorinated Compounds. PFCs are chemicals with stain-resistant or water-resistant properties. They are applied on office furniture, carpet, food packaging and food preparation pans and utensils. Our contact with these materials is one of the reasons PFCs are now more commonly found in our blood.
3M’s Scotchguard was discontinued in 2002 when studies found PFCs in their carpet, furniture and clothing treatments. However, not all manufacturers have discontinued use. PFCs are still found in teflon coated cooking utensils and on most office furniture. One source that many people are unaware of, is the use of these in our food packaging such as the grease-resistant lining on pizza boxes and the inside of microwave popcorn bags.
There is still much to learn about how these and other chemicals can affect our long term health. The EPA has developed a recommended action plan for all companies to take to avoid exposure until studies are completed and assurances can be made. The Washington Toxics Coalition also provides good tips and recommendations. There are many alternatives with all of these materials that are considered non-toxic, safe for the environment and for your employees.
If you need help finding non-toxic alternatives please contact us, we would be happy to help.
According to an article by Safer States, nearly each day, four million people in the United States… are exposed to toxic chemicals in their workplace on a daily basis. What’s worse is that this number is only counting towards the people in direct contact with the chemicals- like janitors, landscapers, and groundskeepers. Now imagine what the statistics jump to once you include all the people who indirectly work around those chemicals- like all the employees who work in your office.
Here are some tips for how to switch to eco-friendly products that will still make your office as clean and beautiful, but without the negative effects on the environment or your health:
Use eco-friendly cleaning products– these cleaning products recommended by the EPA are generally bio-based which means that they break down easily in the environment and do not omit toxic or other harmful substances into the air.
Use an eco-friendly vacuum cleaner– these vacuum cleaners actually help improve indoor air quality by using HEPA filters that can trap nearly 100% of airborne particles.
Use eco-friendly fertilizers and de-icers right outside the office to keep the walkways clear in the winter and the lawns lush and green in the summer, all while reducing the amounts of pollutants seeping into the air and ground.
Add plants to your office. Not only do plants add a sense of beauty and hominess to a workplace, they also add to an eco-friendly environment by absorbing air pollutants.
Contact us today and talk to our eco consultants about how to transform your office environment into a healthy work environment.
A new sustainability training tool was launched in January 2012 by Carbon Trust called the ‘Carbon Trust Empower’ tool which can be downloaded by businesses free of charge.
This interactive application allows employees to take a virtual tour of a typical office building to learn how to make environmental improvements. Employees start off about considering how they get to work, then moving to their desk learning about turning off unused equipment, finally they can review options to avoid unnecessary travel. The tool will also create and keep track of individual personal action plans for employees.
If employees took all of their money-saving suggestions, the company could save annually $309 per employee. Some of the savings that they cite;
Turning off the computer and monitor in the evening could save $60 per year
Accepting a 1 degree temperate reduction could save $6 per person per year
Reduction of paper practices could save $31 per person per year