Kurt Proulx is the Director of Maintenance at Champlain Valley Union High School. We recently asked him a few questions about how he helps keep students and staff safer by using nontoxic products.
How did/does CVU determine what cleaning products to use?
We purchase our products through the Facilities Maintenance Directors Association, which was created to save every school in Vermont money and that only allows the purchase of friendly or green products. But there are still some products that have not made the green list yet or that don’t have
a recommended replacement, like disinfectants.
Why does CVU choose to use less toxic/non-toxic products?
CVU will always move forward with products that help protect our community, not only in the products that we use but also with the time and place they are used in the building. We attend green conferences and follow the guidelines as best we can. We purchase as many of the green cleaning chemicals as we can. The floor finish we use is a green finish. It does cost more to use this finish as it does not hold up as well as the old finishes did.
Did you run into any issues when making the switch?
The products that we use that are considered “green” are our floor finish, window cleaners, and paints for the building interior. We are currently trying to find a replacement for our general disinfectant and restroom disinfectant. We have tried the recommended ones such as peroxide and ozone water (electrically charged water) but both have had adverse effects on one or more of the custodial staff. The only issue so far making the change has been finding products that are safe for our staff to use and ones that all of the staff can agree on using. Neutral disinfectant seemed to work well. We’re currently trying another “green” neutral disinfectant for comparison.
We recently printed this interview in a new CSWD brochure for schools, Hazardous Materials Management, a guide to identifying, reducing, and disposing of hazardous waste in K-12 schools. It was a collaborative effort between the CSWD School Outreach Coordinator, Rhonda Mace, experts at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and various school leaders in Chittenden County.