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Toxic cleaners pose new risks as schools reopen

Toxic cleaners pose new risks as schools reopen

E&E News
By Ariel Wittenberg

Environmental health experts warn that relying too heavily on disinfectants to prevent the spread of infection could actually create more dangers, especially if chemical cleaners are used when children are present.

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Using such chemicals in schools, which are often poorly ventilated, and around kids with vulnerable, developing respiratory systems could create a toxic result, said Alexandra Gorman Scranton, director of science and research at Women’s Voices for the Earth.

She has long argued for broader use of less toxic hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners by domestic workers, and said such considerations are all the more important as schools reopen.

She is worried that underfunded schools with overtaxed custodial staff will be tempted to get students involved in the cleaning by, for example, giving kids disinfectant wipes to use on their own desks.

“Kids and teachers aren’t trained in how to use these products — kids aren’t supposed to be near those wipes,” she said.

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