A scrubbable feast: Albemarle to decide if green is clean

If your name is Lysol or Clorox, you're no longer welcome in Albemarle County buildings, and you may soon be banned from county schools as well. On June 4, the Board of Supervisors did away with synthetic chemical cleaning agents in county buildings, ending routine disinfecting of high-touch areas–- bathrooms and kitchens– unless there's a viral outbreak or other health emergency. In place of disinfecting, the new policy calls for sanitizing–- cleaning with plain old soap and water or green cleaners. On Thursday, July 10, the Albemarle County School Board will begin considering whether schools should also go green when it's time to clean.

The idea is horrifying to Ivy resident Kevin Connally, who believes the new cleaning procedure makes anyone in county buildings– and children in particular– vulnerable to gastrointestinal bugs including the flu.

"Children have a lot more hand-to-mouth activity, especially the little ones, and their hand-washing habits may not be as rigorous as adults'," says Connally. "We know that when a toilet is flushed, germs become airborn, and they land on hard surfaces like light switches, faucets, and toilet seats."

Connally points out that the committee appointed by the supervisors to study the implications of choosing sanitizing over disinfecting recommended the continuation of routine disinfection in county buildings. The supervisors, however, unanimously overrode that recommendation, choosing instead to side with defenders of green cleaning, who say sanitizing is sufficient to prevent the spread of disease and that a lack of information is what keeps people using synthetic chemicals to clean.

While the dictionary definitions of disinfecting and sanitizing are vague–- disinfecting aims to kill all germs, while sanitizing aims to kill most–- one Albemarle resident says the difference is actually minute.

"It would help [people decide] if they knew that the distinction between disinfection and sanitization is that disinfection kills 99.999 percent of germs while sanitization means you'll kill 99.9 percent," says Jackie Lombardo, a Sierra Club member who founded a nonprofit anti-pesticide group called Friends and Advocates for Children, Teachers and Schools.

Inspired by various studies that show that even very low exposure to pesticides (including disinfectants) over time has been linked with learning disabilities, cancer, and asthma in children, Lombardo and her groups have already fought to change the way County schools handle pest control. They won that battle last year, convincing the Albemarle school board to adopt an integrated pest management plan to reduce the use of pesticides. In the past eight months, says Lombardo, the schools eliminated 200 scheduled pesticide treatments. Now she hopes the schools will do the same for cleaning agents.

The county supervisors are on her side. Supervisor David Slutzky argues that killing all the germs on a toilet handle won't necessarily keep children healthy.

"Kids have many pathways of exposure to pathogens in the course of school day," Slutzky says. "It doesn't seem potentially efficacious to isolate one area and super kill."

And Lombardo points out that a toilet is only disinfected until the next person uses it. Then, it's just as contaminated as a toilet that had been sanitized.

University industrial hygienist Kristy Davis agrees with Lombardo and Slutzky. "Unless there's an outbreak that warrants extra cleaning, disinfecting doesn't make any sense, since we're trying to reduce chemicals in the schools," she says.

In addition to considering health and the environment in its decision, Wheeler says the board will also ask questions about the budget implications of the change.

According to projections provided by the committee, to go green for cleaning and landscape maintenance, the school system would need to spend between $72,669 and $100,430 more than the existing budget currently allots for fiscal year 2009, and over five years, the change would add an estimated $352,409 to $465,693.

"Those costs are largely not budgeted for in the upcoming year," Wheeler says.

The greener products are more expensive, says Sarah Temple, the County's environmental compliance manager, and labor costs would also increase from the change. For instance, weeds that had previously been sprayed with chemicals would now be removed manually, a more time-consuming process.

Parent Connally says he doesn't object to schools weeding rather than spraying for plant control, but he believes cleaning is a different story. Killing all germs should be paramount, he says, and he denies there's a health risk associated with most disinfectants.

"We're talking about Lysol spray and Clorox wipes," he says. "We're not talking about something nuclear that makes the rooms glow."

While Davis insists that sanitizing is sufficient to prevent disease, she agrees with Connally that typical disinfectants pose little or no threat to children's health. According to the county staff report, the products used in both school and local government buildings are diluted so that they have a Hazard Materials Identification System health rating of one i.e. "Slight Hazard: Irritation or minor reversible injury possible," according to OSHA's standards.

Davis is more concerned about the environmental effects: she says using disinfectants could prove problematic in the future because exposure might cause surviving generations of organisms to develop resistance to these chemicals. Sanitizing does not create such superbugs.

"We could be creating a situation where we don't have control," she says.

While going green is on the School Board's Thursday, July 10 agenda, the policy will not be set in one meeting, according to Chairman Brian Wheeler, who promises "ample opportunity for public feedback."


Let me make sure I have this straight. The county might spend as much as 100k a year more on less effective cleaners? Replacing cleaners that don't do any harm? Am I missing something?

The staff report and other background materials about this issue are available on my constituent blog.

Brian Wheeler
Albemarle County School Board

How to kill pests without killing yourself or the earth......

There are about 50 to 60 million insect species on earth - we have named only about 1 million and there are only about 1 thousand pest species - already over 50% of these thousand pests are already resistant to our volatile, dangerous, synthetic pesticide POISONS. We accidentally lose about 25,000 to 100,000 species of insects, plants and animals every year due to "man's footprint". But, after poisoning the entire world and contaminating every living thing for over 60 years with these dangerous and ineffective pesticide POISONS we have not even controlled much less eliminated even one pest species and every year we use/misuse more and more pesticide POISONS to try to "keep up"! Even with all of this expensive and unnecessary pollution - we lose more and more crops and lives to these thousand pests every year.

We are losing the war against these thousand pests mainly because we insist on using only synthetic pesticide POISONS and fertilizers There has been a severe "knowledge drought" - a worldwide decline in agricultural R&D, especially in production research and safe, more effective pest control since the advent of synthetic pesticide POISONS and fertilizers. Today we are like lemmings running to the sea insisting that is the "right way". The greatest challenge facing humanity this century is the necessity for us to double our global food production with less land, less water, less nutrients, less science, frequent droughts, more and more contamination and ever-increasing pest damage.

National Poison Prevention Week, March 18-24,2007 was created to highlight the dangers of poisoning and how to prevent it. One study shows that about 70,000 children in the USA were involved in common household pesticide-related (acute) poisonings or exposures in 2004. At least two peer-reviewed studies have described associations between autism rates and pesticides (D'Amelio et al 2005; Roberts EM et al 2007 in EHP). It is estimated that 300,000 farm workers suffer acute pesticide poisoning each year just in the United States - No one is checking chronic contamination.
In order to try to help "stem the tide", I have just finished re-writing my IPM encyclopedia entitled: THE BEST CONTROL II, that contains over 2,800 safe and far more effective alternatives to pesticide POISONS. This latest copyrighted work is about 1,800 pages in length and is now being updated at my new website at http://www.thebestcontrol2.com .

This new website at http://www.thebestcontrol2.com has been basically updated; all we have left to update is Chapter 39 and to renumber the pages. All of these copyrighted items are free for you to read and/or download. There is simply no need to POISON yourself or your family or to have any pest problems.

Stephen L. Tvedten
2530 Hayes Street
Marne, Michigan 49435
When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest.

Let me get this straight, a couple of years ago the county was planning for a PANDEMIC, this year we are not as concerned about a PANDEMIC so cleansing is not an issue.

Can I now sue the county for exposing my children to all these toxic products and the harms they have caused? I think we can agree more people are hurt by sports than what these paranoid greenies are selling. Can we now move forward and ban sports from the schools too? How about it Brian & Co?

I think pesticide and herbicide abuse should really be the issue NOT what these paranoid granola people want to dictate.

So when is Sarah Temple going to start pulling the weeds from the many acres the county maintains? I got it...maybe we can hire 2 or 3 FTE for weed control and then a Weed Control Manager too! This is great....God how did we survive this long without these guys to save us.

"she says using disinfectants could prove problematic in the future because exposure might cause surviving generations of organisms to develop resistance to these chemicals."

So does this mean anti-bacterial/fungal soaps with triclosan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triclosan) will no longer be used?

I read your catipiler control and it says to use DE. DE is something I place on the ground...when will the catiplier jump jump off the leaf it is munching on to come in contact with it? Thanks!

Holly Cow!!! Don't you think we should spend another 300,000 on a study?? :-) What happened to common sense Albemarle Co. Board of Supervisors?? Easy does it.... did you know that there are more germs on a faucet than there is on a toilet seat
:-) I just learned that last weekend. So, how many kids REALLY wash their hands??? AND how long do these kids spend in the bathroom?
I feel a storm a brewin'.
I think all of us are aware of THE problem, but histeria will certainly kill us first. BREATHE.....

oops, hysteria

Yeah... we shouldn't use bleach because DDT kills baby Bald Eagles!!!!

Does this make sense?

My daughter attends an ACPS. I find this absolutely ridiciulous. I don't want them to use green cleaning products. I want the germs killed. This is absurd. There are a few parents that cause these big stinks about stuff like this. I say if you don't like it, pay for the private or home school. Because of those people that make a stink about everything the children truly are suffering.

Not to get off subject but last spring my daughter had gotten a tick on her (most likely from the playground as they told me that was the case with alot of kids.) and the school refused to pull it off. They said they are not allowed to do that anymore. They said going into this school year the only thing the nurse will be able to do is clean a boo-boo with soap and water and apply a band aid. Absolutely Ridiculous!

One thing the article did not point out is that Kevin Connally, the parent who is horrified schools won't be using pesticides, is a Sales Rep for Bayer, the pesticide company. Here he is "teaching" school children about his product...uhh I mean, insects.



You wrote:

"One thing the article did not point out is that Kevin Connally, the parent who is horrified schools won't be using pesticides, is a Sales Rep for Bayer, the pesticide company."

From the story above:

"Parent Connally says he doesn't object to schools weeding rather than spraying for plant control"

It's tough to listen to you any further when you screw up that detail.

Go Army! They hate pesticides too!

Army's pest-control program aims to keep families safe
By Tim Wightman, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Thursday, July 10, 2008

When it's time to face off with a rat or cockroach that has invaded your domain, a can of pesticide in your hand can make you feel like a stud, a hero, the last line of defense for you and your family.

But pesticides can harm both the environment and human health.

It's a lesson Camp Zama schools and youth centers took to heart in September when they adopted the Integrated Pest Management program ¢Ã¢â??¬” a course that preaches preventive measures to reduce the need for toxic pesticides.

IPM incorporates strategies such as sealing doors and windowsills, keeping vegetation out of contact with buildings and changing the locations of outdoor lights to avoid attracting pests to points of entry on a building.

The Army Environmental Command started the program, which is already being used in schools and youth centers on stateside Army installations.

Deputy Commander of U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine Pacific Lt. Col. Sandra Alvey headed up the program in the States before implementing it on Camp Zama.

Alvey says the goal is for the Army to extend the program to all parts of the Pacific Rim and then to Europe.

"It's economically driven as far as keeping the (Community Youth Services) structures on the facilities side of the house in the best working order that we can while maintaining pest management," Alvey said. "It's also for the occupational health safety of children and the workers in the workplace."


Is that the same army that lined up their soldiers during the nuke test in the desert and allowed them to be exposed to radiation wearing protective sunglasses and a helmet?

Here's a solution taht should satisfy all...my company has developed the only green disinfectant in the world. Registered hospital grade disinfectant with the EPA, made with Thyme oil as the active ingredient. A plant immune system in a bottle. Kills 99.999+%, yet no warnings on the label.

Ha, left off the most important part www.Benefect.com. We also have triclosan-free antibacterial soaps & alcohol-free hand sanitizers availabel through Target or at www.CleanWellToday.com!

I object to the comment that costs will rise by using green cleaners. I work for a company that manufactures green cleaners, and if used at the recommended dilutions, they won't cost more to use.
There is a difference in the way they work, as they need 5-8 seconds dwell time to effectively penetrate soils and lift those soils from the substrate.
Green Cleaners are NOT for heavy duty/salvage type situations; they are for daily light to moderate soils, so it may require the management team to enforce more stringent adherence to cleaning frequencies and schedules.

Sam, it may well be "gree", but it doesn't have the Green Seal certification. As yet, because disinfectants are covered by the pesticide regulatory section of the EPA, disinfectants cannot be Green Seal Certified by the EPA. And, as far as I know, any product claiming to be a disinfectant, has to have an EPA certification number on the label, or it's just talk and disinfection claims haven't be verified by the EPA.

Jerry - it's true, disinfectants are pesticides. As I said before...

One thing the article did not point out is that Kevin Connally, the parent who is horrified schools won't be using pesticides, is a Sales Rep for Bayer, the pesticide company. Here he is ¢Ã¢â??¬Ã?â??teaching¢Ã¢â??¬ school children about his product¢Ã¢â??¬Šuhh I mean, insects.



I made the "costs more" comment because it came straight from the article. The minimum cost increase per year the article is $70,481. Now if you dilute a product that's acknowledged to be less effective---than bleach for instance---enough to close up that cost difference, wouldn't it be equally effective to just use water?


Read the rest of the comments. You're seriously not helping your case here.

So chlorine is safe enough to put in drinking water but not to clean the toilets in schools? Chlorine comes out of the elementary school water fountains. Have we seen the list of verified chlorine impact that justifies the wasteful expense giving inferior performance?

Either this is a senseless "feel good" policy or somebody's making money on it.


Come on now, come clean, nontoxically clean that is.

What's your position at Bayer? Do you also make a commission like the other "horrified" parent who did not disclose that he works for Bayer pesticide company and wants the schools to still use his product? You seem awfully knowledgeable...

Oh...here's that horrified parent again...


I agree, the cost increase should be minimal based on the fact I can buy "green" products at similar costs retail. Of course if a company is behind this push I can understand them wanting to take a county like Albemarle for a ride at taxpayer expense.

Does anyone want to fess up to who is really pushing this issue? Are we being had by "green" capitalist? This reminds me of the "T" word Bush pushed on us. How many bought that duct tape and plastic? LOL

Are you kidding me? I don't work for Bayer, but I do see through this crap. I'll explain it since you skipped through the article in order to post a BS link.

Mr. Connally, as the article states, "says he doesn't object to schools weeding rather than spraying for plant control." So if he's not putting himself in a position to gain as an employee of Bayer, why do you keep saying it?

You're so caught up in the cause that it has paralyzed your ability to think for yourself. How about you explain how a more expensive, less effective cleaner is a good thing? And do not copy/paste. Tell me why YOU think so. Your grade depends on it.

Hi Jim,

Seems I've hit a nerve. Maybe it's the other pesticide company you work for? Or the cleaning supply company? Anyway...

"Mr. Connally, as the article states, ¢Ã¢â??¬Ã?â??says he doesn't object to schools weeding rather than spraying for plant control.¢Ã¢â??¬ So if he's not putting himself in a position to gain as an employee of Bayer, why do you keep saying it?"

Why do I keep saying it? Because he works for the company that makes the pesticides the schools are using. Can you say... conflict-of-interest? Geeez. Get off the internet. You're slowing it down.

Part of the misinformation regarding Bleach, is that it's a good cleaner, when in fact, it is not.
It's harmful to most surfaces; harmful to the environment; costly; corrosive; can cause respiratory issues, etc. It's cheap..but other than that, not much can be said for it as a cleaner.
As for the costs of products, the REAL cost, is when it's diluted and in the bucket - what is that cost? Is it being used as directed? Or, is someone of the mindset that if the recommendation of x ounces/gallon is correct, then 2 or 3x is even better...NOT the case, usually. Especially in the case of disinfectants. When disinfectants are over diluted, they DON'T clean better; they DON'T kill any other organisms than those specified on the label or in the efficacy data; and they don't kill anything any more quickly by overuse. Only those of us selling the product benefit if they are overused.
If Green Seal Certified products are used as directed, the case cost makes little difference, because the Ready-To-Use cost will be competitive to less expensive products.


Do you really think the company that would be supplying the new "green" cleaning products is doing it for the children?

From what's been reported, there is no "green cleaning" company. Green Seal certified safer products can be made by any manufacturer and sold by any retailer, except apparently by the one the horrified parent works for.


Thanks for some very good information. Everyone else, please do some research. Find some facts...respond when you have them.
These county supervisors are loaded with misinformation...just enough
to be dangerous.

Sounds like Tim wants to restrict our freedom to rant. Thanks for your contribution Tim, I found it most enlightening.

Things to keep in mind:

1. Finances: Should money lead the discussion when deciding to use products that make a child's asthma worse? Can we put a price on a child's health?

2. Changing science: It is no longer accepted in the scientific community that small amounts of poison are ok.

- Two weeks ago the safety of Virex II, the same disinfectant used daily in Albemarle County Public School (ACPS), came into question for causing birth defects and fertility problems in mice. www.nature.com/news/2008/080618/full/453964a.html

- Studies show babies today are born pre-polluted with hundreds of chemicals detected in their tiny bodies. http://archive.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden2/execsumm.php

- Two pesticides that were spread on our school fields for weeds were pulled by the EPA because now¢Ã¢â??¬Šwe are certain they are carcinogenic.

3. ACPS Student Health Statistics from the Virginia Dept of Education:

- Today, 1 in every 15 students in ACPSs reports having asthma,
- Today, 1 in 6 every students in ACPS's is also enrolled in Special Ed for either a learning, developmental or emotional disability,
- Today, almost 1 in every 3 ACPS students reports having a permanent, life-long health condition.

- If asthma rates are up, remove the asthmagens (disinfectant - Virex II )

- If cancer rates are up, remove the carcinogens (pesticide - Fipronil).

- If learning disabilities are epidemic, remove the neurotoxins (pesticides - Deltamethrin, Imidacloprid, Hydramethylnon)
and use the safer alternatives.

We don't need proof, we just need precaution and so we are hopeful the School Board will agree with F.A.C.T.S., UVA's industrial hygienist Kristy Davis, the Harvard School of Public Health, the EPA, the CDC, and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisor's new protective policy - that everyday viruses and bacteria in bathrooms and kitchens can easily be handled with sanitization using Green Seal cleaners, not harsh disinfectants. If there is a pest emergency that threatens the health of children, like MRSA or a flu epidemic, pesticides including disinfectants would be appropriate. Only then can we be certain that in our efforts to prevent pests or germs, we aren't creating life-long disabilities.

I can tell you like to see your name...it must be an ego issue you have or perhaps too many chemicals??? I'm not a fan of chemical over use but I am not a fan of overreaction to something that hasn't been an issue in our schools.

Perhaps we should stop using oil due to the oil spills that occur and those diesel buses can't be good either! What about UVA...get those kids off the field and in the shade NOW!!!

Please make this paranoid state of thinking go away!!!!!

So, if we should stop using chlorine to swab toilets, even though it's cheap and effective, shouldn't we get it out of the tykes' water fountains at school?

Then again, there isn't much profit in chlorine.

Not an ego thing - a computer thing. Apologies for several postings - I've been trying to post it in one long post since yesterday - even contacted The Hook as to why it wouldn't go through. Then I tried 2-3 sentences at a time and it worked.

Seems to me that certain people are against taking precautions to protect our children. Why take the chance?..I can only guess it's because these dangerous chemicals are making boatloads of cash for corporations.
There are safer alternatives and methods..shoudn't we use them instead of watered down world war 11 nerve agents??, considering how sick our kids already are? Where's the common sense? Haven't you read the data?

Many other school districts have adopted the safer methods recommended by F.A.C.T.S. They have reported high rates of success with the programs, and teachers and janitors are less sick themselves I have read! We would hardly be the first to pioneer such a program.
Amazing to me the power of the status quo despite overwhelming reasons to change.

What about immune compromised children and County employees? We're going to spend more to put them at more risk? Prevention is great but not if you ignore the actually sick who are already here and put their lives at risk. It is not very clear to me that there are sufficient studies to prove this will prevent anything but it is clear it will put existing ill children and adults at risk. I'm glad Albemarle County doesn't own nor run any medical facilities.

It's the immune compromised children and county employees that need this change the most. If your immune system is exposed to less carcinogens, asthamgens, and neurotoxins, the things that may lead to problems, stands to reason that your health condition could only benefit.

??? Um, No. It's germs, viruses and bacteria that people who are immune compromised have to worry about. Asthmagens? We're talking about people with transplants, undergoing chemo and post-transplant, not people with Asthma. Ask an M.D. if you don't believe me. Hey, somebody ask Dr. Hong/Dr. Hook to write a column about it!

Sorry, I meant to say people with HIV and AIDS, not write transplants twice.

My apologies to Fearmonger. Rant away.

Thanks Alison,

For clearing this issue up. Unfortunately, many of these posters here don't realize what you know. Namely, that the use of these known carcinogens and neurotoxins, endrocine disrupters and allergens around immune compromised individuals, in an enclosed environment repeatedly..whether or not evidence of infestation or bacteria exists....is for their own good!(LOL)

Furthermore, that these chemicals used in synergy have "unknown health consequences" all the while, safer alternmatives are readily available and by the way..(are sweeping the nation), is completely irrelevant. Thanks so much for your shoot from the hip, ill read response!
Do your homework, and maybe you will make sense next time.

Dear Charles,

Please cite any evidence that green cleaning is safer for immune compromised children and adults than Clorox and Lysol. Not opinion nor prevalence of use, but evidence. And maybe look up bacteria and viruses so you can make some sense in answering my question. thanks.

Maybe if we use more clorox it will kill the mice and rats as stated by the lab test so we wont have to use poisons to control the rodent problem. Could that be a green solution? Just think, no poisons to poison the kids who suck on the baits. However, if the kids lick the tables there could be problems. :/

Maybe we should just home school them all and let the Raid, second hand smoke, lead in paint, kerosene heater exhaust, woodstove ash, clorox, dishwasher soap, indoor pollution, animal dander and chemical lawns be their fulltime environment! Hmmm....maybe we are looking under the wrong rock??? I really didnt know things were that broken??? HAS ACPS BEEN POISONING OUR CHILDREN? I'm contacting a lawyer today!!!

It appears studies usually find the answers they want. Here is a good example: A survey revealed people think education for children is important. HELLO!

The misinformation in this article is astounding.

Hostpital Grade Disinfectants kill 100% of the germs and viruses listed on the EPA approved label - not 99.999%. Sierra Club needs to get their facts straight. Sanitizers kill 99.99%.

Also - the cost of green is mostly in the landscaping not the housekeeping and cleaning. The cost is neutral to go to green cleaners. Sounds to me a very agressive sales person for a company selling half baked green products got in there and sold the county on a bill of goods. Suckers.