Young children are especially vulnerable when exposed to these chemicals in the physical environment. According to Moms Clean Air Force, “babies take a breath about 40 times per minute, while adults breathe 12-20 times per minute. Children don’t just breathe more rapidly, they also literally breathe more air than adults. Children have a larger lung surface area in proportion to their weight than adults. They breathe 50% more air in proportion to their weight than adults. These amazing organs are working especially hard to help our children grow and thrive. Children also exercise more and spend more time outside compared to adults.” Additionally, children stick objects in their mouths to explore them and spend a lot of time on the ground crawling and playing, where harmful chemicals collect. This means that they take in a large amount of toxins when they are present.
Many toxic cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products can also irritate the lungs, and can trigger or even cause asthma. Using safe cleaning practices can remove allergens, asthma triggers, bacteria and germs from the environment to keep children healthy and ready to learn.
Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting
Cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting are all actually different processes and should be used at different times. The specific definitions of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting listed below are based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines and a summary from California Child Health Program (CCHP).
Cleaning is the process that physically removes debris from a surface or area by scrubbing, washing and rinsing. It can be accomplished with soap or detergent, and water. Proper cleaning must always be completed before sanitizing because dirt can prevent disinfectants from working successfully.
Sanitizing refers to the use of any product that kills 99.9% germs, as identified on its label. In child care settings, sanitizing will help to reduce the risk of children becoming ill from contact with the particular surface or object.
Sanitizers should be used on surfaces where food is served or prepared, and on mouthed objects, including toys and pacifiers.
Disinfecting refers to the use of any product that kills nearly 100% of germs, as identified on its label.
Disinfecting is recommended for blood spills to decrease the risk of spreading bloodborne illness; for use on changing tables, bathroom sinks and toilets; and on high-risk areas that collect a lot of germs, such as doorknobs, cabinet handles, and drinking fountains. Disinfectants do not necessarily clean surfaces. Germs can hide under dirt and grime and are not affected by them, so it is always important to clean prior to disinfecting.
Choosing Safe and Healthy Products