Purchasing Cleaning Supplies—Intelligently

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Read the labels, especially the warnings, and ask these questions before you buy.
1. Is it biodegradable? Whenever possible, biodegradable products are preferred for their minimal
environmental impact.
2. Is it nontoxic? Choose products that can’t harm workers, guests, or food products.
3. Does it contain phosphates? These encourage the growth of algae, which depletes oxygen and kills
aquatic life in waterways.
4. Does it contain chlorine-based bleach? In wastewater, chlorine may combine with other chemicals to
form toxic compounds.
5. Is it concentrated? Products that can be diluted in cold water will save money and energy.
6. Does it contain a high concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)? In sunlight, VOCs react with
nitrous oxides to produce ozone and photoelectric smog.
7. Is it made from a petroleum derivative? Look instead for a purely oil-based product, with a pH level as
close to 7 as possible to avoid irritation if the product comes into skin contact. (A pH level of 1 is the
most acidic; 14 is the most alkaline; 7 is neutral.)

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