Green cleaning refers to using cleaning methods and products with environmentally friendly ingredients and procedures which are designed to preserve human health and environmental quality. Green cleaning techniques and products avoid the use of products which contain toxic chemicals, some of which emit volatile organic compounds causing respiratory, dermatological and other conditions. Green cleaning can also describe the way residential and industrial cleaning products are manufactured, packaged and distributed. If the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly and the products are biodegradable, then the term "green" or "eco-friendly" may apply.
Alkyl polyglycosides (APGs)
Illustrative of green cleaning agents are APGs, a class of non-ionic surfactants widely used in a variety of household and industrial applications. APG are derived from sugars, usually glucose derivatives, and fatty alcohols. They are used to enhance the formation of foams in detergents for dishwashing and for delicate fabrics. In addition to their favorable foaming properties, they are attractive because they readily biodegrade. The raw materials for industrial manufacture are typically starch and fat.
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Product labeling programs
Among the product-labeling programs is the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Design for the Environment program which labels products that meet EPA's criteria for chemicals. These products are allowed to carry the Design for the Environment (DfE) label. Generally, products which are labelled 'low' or 'zero' VOC are safer for human and animal health in the home as well as the environment.
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