RELEASE DATE: September 24, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS: Suzanne Skadowski, U.S. EPA, 415-972-3165,

Guillermo Rodriguez, San Francisco Department of the Environment, 415-355-3756,

U.S. EPA and San Francisco Department of the Environment honor five local custodial cleaning companies recognized as Green Businesses at event today

The first green business program in the nation with training focused on custodial worker health

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the San Francisco Department of the Environment today honored five companies who successfully completed the Custodial Green Cleaning pilot program, the first Green Business program in the nation focused on protecting custodial worker health by switching from harmful cleaning products to greener products and methods. To date, 300 custodians have been trained under the pilot program and over 12,000 gallons of harmful cleaning chemicals have been eliminated each year.

The pilot program, started in 2011 by the Department with EPA's $74,500 pollution prevention grant, is designed to prevent health problems from harmful cleaning chemicals, such as respiratory illnesses and toxic exposures through inhalation of chemical fumes. Custodians aren't the only ones who could reap health benefits - workers at their places of employment and children in schools are also at risk from the health effects of indoor air pollution caused by toxic chemicals in cleaners.

"Americans spend 90 percent of our time inside buildings where indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Using green, non-toxic products lets us breathe easier wherever we work, learn and live."

"These five companies collectively represent more than 4.5 million square feet of property in San Francisco that is now being cleaned using safer and more environmentally friendly cleaning methods," said Debbie Raphael, director of San Francisco Department of the Environment. "With over 2 million people working with cleaning products across the nation, there is great opportunity for us to protect the health of vulnerable populations by helping other cities replicate this model."

At the start of the Green Cleaning pilot program, nearly half of the chemicals the companies were using were harmful and by the end of the program, the custodial companies replaced all of these chemicals with safer alternatives. The Department developed multi-lingual training videos and materials, and provided consultation to custodial companies on Green Cleaning practices and products with multi-lingual staff training - all that are now available free online for companies and communities nationwide.

The five companies in the Green Cleaning pilot program continued to make other green commitments for zero waste, green building, energy efficiency, water conservation, and pollution prevention and they are all now recognized as San Francisco Green Businesses:

"Using greener products and practices is good for my employees and good for my business," said Victor Koga from Japan Janitorial Service. "Making the transition to healthier, greener products was a cost-effective way to create a safer work environment for my employees, while providing high-quality service to my clients."

The Department's pilot Green Cleaning program is part of the San Francisco Green Business program and the training is available to all companies who want to be recognized as Green Businesses.

Last year, EPA's Pacific Southwest office provided more than $380,000 in pollution prevention grants in California, Hawaii and Nevada to fund environmental projects that reduce or eliminate pollution at the source.

For more information on the Custodial Green Cleaning program, including instructional videos, visit:

Learn more about San Francisco Green Business at:

For more information about today's Green Cleaning event and photos, visit:

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