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 Alliance for  Healthy Tomorrow

State Legislative Factsheet


Act to Reduce Asthma by Using Safer Cleaning Products:

Senate Bill 1224

Sponsors: (fill in) Diane Wilkerson, Richard T. Moore, Pamela P. Resor, Shirley Gomes


Background:  Just because a product makes a building cleaner doesn’t mean that it makes it safer.  For evidence of the harmful effects of toxic cleaning chemicals we can look at those who are most exposed to them: cleaning workers.  Recent students show that cleaning workers suffer among the highest rates of occupational asthma and certain types of cancer.  They are at increased risk of reproductive problems and poor birth outcomes such as stillbirth and birth defects.


Cleaning products not only threaten the workers who use them, but also the health of children and workers who live and work in the buildings where they are used.  Cleaning chemicals often contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), many of which cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, liver, kidney and central nervous system damage and cancer.  Floor stripping products can contain hazardous ingredients, such as monoethanolamine and sodium hydroxide, which can cause permanent blindness if splashed into the eyes, severe chemical burns on the skin, and liver and kidney damage.  Some degreasers contain butoxyethanol which can damage the blood, liver, kidneys and developing babies.  Others contain trichlorethylene, a probable carcinogen.


What the bill does: 

Sponsored by and endorsed by the AFL-CIO last year, this bill requires that:

·         Schools, hospitals and other health care facilities, day care centers, public buildings, and common areas of public housing use only cleaning products included on the “Safer Cleaning Products” list established by the Department of Public Health (DPH).  Products on the list are those that do not cause or trigger asthma as determined by the Mass. Operational Services Division in their existing Environmentally Preferable Products program.

DPH establish a program to develop and provide a training grants program for cleaning personnel in the use of healthy cleaning products, test healthy cleaning products with teams of cleaning personnel in the field, and to train cleaning personnel in use of healthy cleaning products.  The bill authorizes DPH to assess a reasonable fee on such manufacturers of cleaning products sufficient to cover the costs of this program.




H-1286 & S-553 An Act for a Healthy Massachusetts:

Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals

Sponsors: Representative Jay Kaufman, Senator Steven Tolman

Summary: This bill expands the successful Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) program, which has demonstrated that reducing the use of toxic chemicals both protects health and saves businesses money. It builds upon TURA's proven pragmatic approach to helping MA industries by creating a comprehensive program to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives in consumer products and other businesses. It initially targets ten of the worst toxic chemicals in wide use in Massachusetts that are currently replaceable with feasible safer alternatives for many of their current uses.

Status: Currently before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. Hearing was held on June 27, 2005.

Factsheets:  Safer Alternatives Bill - general information

                   Safer Alternatives Bill - detailed description

Bill text:



H-2783 & S-1223 An Act Relative to Reducing Asthma by Using Safer Alternatives to Cleaning Products

Sponsors: Representative Frank Smizik, Senator Diane Wilkerson

Summary: The purpose of this bill is to reduce asthma and other health threats from emissions of toxic chemicals from cleaning products used in schools, hospitals and other health care facilities, day care centers, public buildings, and common areas of public housing. The bill requires that no cleaning product may be used in these spaces unless the product is included on the "Safer Cleaning Products" list established by the Department of Public Health.

Status: Currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health.  Hearing was held on May 25th, 2005.

Fact Sheet: Safer Cleaning Products Bill

Bill Text:



See the lists of Senators and Representatives that co-sponsored these AHT Priority Bills.


The Alliance for a Heatlhy Tomorrow is a coalition of 150 organizations—health, environmental, labor, scientific, faith, and community groups—that have come together to call for laws and policies that prevent harm to human health and the environment from toxic chemicals. Some member groups of the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow are unable to endorse legislation due to their 501(c)3 tax status.

Updated February 2006

© Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow

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