Posts

Cleaning Conversations: Jeff Hawkins, Provo City School District

Approximately 70-75 percent of the custodial team at Provo City School District is comprised of students, so when schools closed in the spring, that left Jeff Hawkins and his team with a massive staffing shortage. With all hands on deck, staff from other departments pitched in to learn the (OS1) System and clean schools.

With so much of the current conversation focused around disinfection, Jeff talks about how the (OS1) System has prepared them for executing cleaning during a pandemic situation, so his team has the training, tools and program to keep students, teachers and staff safe.

Are Dirty Schools Making Kids Sick?

[fbshare type=”button”]

[twitter style=”horizontal” float=”left”]

[linkedin_share style=”none”]

 

Two seemingly unrelated events were the subject of news stories in the early weeks of 2012. The first occurred on January 12, when the Vermont Senate gave final approval to Senate bill #92, a bill that requires public schools and “approved independent schools” to ensure that only environmentally preferable cleaning products are used to clean the schools. The bill will now make its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature which will transform the bill into law. Vermont’s state owned and leased buildings have already transitioned to “green” cleaning products as a result of the Clean State Program created by an executive order signed by Governor Douglas in 2004.

Banning Germ Killers in Schools

But the perhaps, unintended consequence of this legislation action goes further. It bans disinfectants and sanitizers in public schools. Is this really the lengths Vermont want to go to be “green”? If so it joins the states like California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Neveda, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. It is relevant to note that this legislation has been driven not by the medical community and public health experts but by state procurement officers and purchasing agents in league with the janitorial supply industry.

The Vermont bill allows for the use of disinfectants only when:

  1. Blood, body fluids or fecal soiling is present on any surface; (ignoring that most diseases are spread by invisible germs called pathogenic microorganisms and not visible accumulations listed in the Vermont legislation).
  2.  The State makes a case specific determination that failure to use a disinfectant would create a risk to public health and safety (like MRSA, Avian Flu, SARS, Whooping cough, measles, and the common cold).

Two days later, on Saturday January 14, Dr. Sanjay Gupta CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, aired a report in his series on Toxic America about the sorry, environmental health of schools in the United States. More schools than ever are making kids and school staff sick. While it’s tough to estimate how many toxic schools are in America, most research shows that at least a third or more of U.S. Schools have issues like mold, dust and other indoor air problems serious enough to cause respiratory illnesses like asthma in students and staff. Healthy Schools Network reports that as many as 55 million U.S. children may be attending public and private K-12 schools where poor air quality, hazardous chemicals and other unhealthy conditions can make everyone sick.

The U.S. EPA estimates that at least half of all schools in this country have indoor air quality problems caused by toxic chemical and pesticide use, chemical spills, mold infestations, asbestos, radon, lead in paint and drinking water, heavy metals and persistent toxics, such as mercury, CCA and PCBs.

Other highlights of Dr. Gupta’s story included:

  • A story about a woman who claims school air sickened her son for 53 days last school year
  • New York study finds correlation between building maintenance and illness
  • Studies estimate one-third of U.S. schools have mold, dust and other indoor air problems
  • Connecticut school so plagued with mold officials decided to tear it down

Now the Rest of the Story

Missing from both the Vermont and Dr. Gupta’s story was the recognition of the importance of cleaning and sanitation. There was no recognition that a proven process of cleaning and disinfections leads to improved health, comfort and educational performance.

In 2007, Michael Berry, PhD, wrote a booklet Healthy Schools are Clean, Dry and Productive. Largely ignored, this essay provides leadership for both the “school is making my kids sick” and the “green cleaning” groups. Berry points out that the “importance of a healthy school environment in enhancing the learning process is described in many studies. There is a direct connection between environmental quality, comfort, health and well-being, positive attitudes and behavior, and higher levels of education performance. The quality of the school environment shapes attitudes of students, teachers and staff. Attitudes affect teaching and learning behavior. Behavior affects performance. Educational performance determines future outcomes of individuals and society as a whole.”

Berry wrote:

We need to recognize that the main causes of environmentally related illness in schools are water, food sources for the various bio-pollutants, non-existent or ineffective cleaning, and poor ventilation. We should guard against becoming myopic when it comes to assessing environmental risk in school environments. Too often, we spend a large amount of time looking at air quality alone, especially in recent times with regard to mold. This narrow focus is necessary but by no means sufficient to protect the health of our children and their teachers and the quality of our school environments.

Should the states be banning disinfectants and sanitizers?

To protect health in schools, we need to take a close look at total exposure, and not solely focus on the air route of exposure. Bacteria that come from direct contact with other humans and surfaces cause over 80% of environmentally related illness. The main routes of exposure are dermal and ingestion, not air. Even air poses its most serious threats by delivering bacteria and viruses to sensitive receptors. Sufficiently concentrated airborne mold spore and other airborne allergens, such as cockroach antigen, frequently trigger allergic reactions in sensitized individuals, particularly asthmatics.

Disinfectant and sanitizers are by definition toxic. We use them to “kill” pathogens before they make humans sick. The purchasing agents and cleaning chemical supply marketing organizations who promote the complete ban on poisons and toxins in schools don’t understand what Paracelsus, the father of toxicology, declared in the 14th century “The dose makes the poison.” Using sanitizers are fundamental to food preparation, dishwashing and serving meals. Disinfection of potential cross-contamination points in lavatories, and other common touch points in schools are basic to proper cleaning and school hygiene.

Trainers should expect and be prepared to discuss the risk/benefit analysis of proper cleaning and sanitation. (OS1) has an unequalled dedication to environmental issues. But it also values the benefits associated with properly killing pathogenic microorganisms in the public facilities entrusted to us. The State of Vermont and Dr. Gupta should know about the following scientific studies on the importance of cleaning:

  • Frank Porter Graham Study
  • Alexander Krilov Study

They should also be promoting the benefits and the reported results by workers and patrons in (OS1) facilities like Dixon Middle School and University of Michigan. In 2012, the (OS1) user group will be focusing on three areas to “Protect Yourself” in facilities. They are:

  1. The reduction of asthma-type symptoms due to the performance level of (OS1) that provides negligible dust following the UNC cleaning protocol.
  2. Focus on proper use and application of germicidal chemicals.
  3. The opportunity to dramatically reduce humidity in schools by strategically using portable air drying equipment.

These three strategies are a messaging opportunity for the (OS1) trainers, (OS1) support manufacturers (particularly ProTeam, PortionPac & Dri-Eaz) and the Simon Institute.

Dixon Middle School Teacher Praises (OS1)

by Jeff Hawkins
Provo City School District – Head Custodian/ (OS1) Certified Trainer

As a Head Custodian at a Middle School, I often have teachers approach me with comments and concerns about their classrooms as well as the school in general. I would like to share just such an encounter that happened in April of 2011.

I was walking down the hall at Dixon Middle School when Ms. Giblon, our band teacher, called my name from down the corridor. Ms. Giblon has had a lot of health problems and has been absent from school quite a bit this year. She has been experiencing unexplained migraine headaches and episodes where she “blacks out.” I stopped as she said she needed to talk to me.

To be honest, I expected to hear a concern or complaint about something that required my attention. To my pleasant surprise, she shared the accompanying story with me. I am truly inspired by her story and feel genuinely proud that the (OS1) cleaning program that I have been asked to oversee in Provo City School District is having such a profound impact on one of our teachers’ lives. Stories like these make all of the hard work worth it and are a true testament to the positive results of the (OS1) cleaning program.

Letter to Jeff Hawkins from a Teacher at Dixon Middle School

“I have been recently diagnosed with severe migraine headaches and my neurologist has been trying to help me discover and eliminate
things that may trigger them. She told me to try eliminating household cleaners with heavy chemical smells from my home as they may be one of the possible triggers. I have been cleaning with “natural” cleaners in my house for a few weeks now. I am also taking medication and trying to eliminate a few other things but I have not had a migraine or blackout incident since I switched cleaning routines. I have also had less allergy trouble.

I don’t know if the lack of exposure to heavy chemical cleaners at home and at school are the only reason I feel better but I have noticed that when I go into other schools and businesses and smell the chemicals from cleaners that I sometimes get the nauseous/lightheaded feeling I was getting before I was having my migraine/blackout incidents. I can’t stand to walk down the cleaner aisle at the store any more because it just gags me.

So anyway, I just want to thank you for being willing to pilot this new cleaning program at Dixon and for using safer cleaning products. I appreciate what an awesome job you do keeping our school clean and safe. It does make a difference!”

~Ms. Giblon
Dixon Middle School

 

K-12 Schools Punish Students by Making them Work as Janitors

Written By Jeff Hawkins
(OS1) Trainer, Provo City School District

Often students at school that are in trouble for any number of reasons are brought to me to be “punished” for their bad deeds. Administrators ask if I can put them to work by doing janitorial tasks such as cleaning lunchroom tables, washing entry glass, cleaning lockers, picking up trash, etc. While I do think it is appropriate for a student who draws all over the walls to be given the task of cleaning it off, I am not sure if I see a correlation of having to clean lunchroom tables for being excessively tardy or picking up trash for being disrespectful to a teacher. It seems that more often than not the administrators are unintentionally sending the message to misbehaving students that “if you get out of line we will give you the most awful punishment we can think of ” …janitorial work.

Ever since I have been introduced to (OS1), I am feeling conflicted that “punishing” students to do janitorial tasks goes against the entire JU Philosophy of Cleaning. If we are trying to send the message that the janitorial profession is a first class profession employing first class citizens, should administrators be “sentencing” students to perform cleaning tasks? Isn’t that reinforcing the negative stereotypes that we are working so hard to reverse?

Think about it.

 

Microbiology for Cleaning Workers Simplified – 2011 Edition

The Microbiology for Cleaning Workers Simplified book has been revised, re-editied and updated with new information. Co-written by John Walker and Dr. Jeffery Campbell, the newest version of this book offers 260 pages of information that was designed for the professional cleaning world.

All professional cleaners work in a jungle. An invisible jungle. A jungle of billions of microorganisms. Some are friendly, some are hostile, some are trying to (and eventually will) kill us. We are part of the jungle and home to millions of the micro-creatures who live on us, in us and around us in every nook and cranny we attempt to clean. The invisible jungle resides in the most pristine kitchen, the shiniest restroom and the cleanest smelling hospital or school. In these spotless environments, bad bugs ranging from MRSA to E. coli to coliform to salmonella are actively spreading from surface to surface, like chimpanzees swinging from bough to infected bough.

They are colonizing the plumbing, thriving on shelves and inhabiting the corners of counters. This book is not designed to be a medical manual. It’s is not a hospital reference book. It is not a technical scientific tome. It is a book designed to help cleaning workers. Housekeepers, janitors, custodians, trainers and their management who are concerned with the broad area of dealing with the problems of microorganisms, wherever they are found in the workplace. This book attempts to bridge the gap between science and common sense when it comes to cleaning facilities. Here are the sanitation basics, the vocabulary and the history of cleaning for health. It’s compiled to equip you to deal in a practical way with everyday cleaning and sanitation problems of facility operations. Once you master the basic knowledge, you can act professionally to provide the necessary health service to those who work in these facilities.

You can order your very on copy from the ManageMen online store, by clicking here.