What are some environmental considerations when selecting a cleaning agent?
Environmental considerations include concern over volatile solvents with ozone-depleting potential and volatile-organic compound content that is regulated by The Clean Air Act Amendments. Any detergent chosen should be biodegradable and readily disposable, and contain no RCRA Hazard Classification or EPA Priority Pollutants.
Surfactants are not generally viewed as a menace to the environment. Nonetheless, their impact on the environment often receives as much attention as their technical properties and economic aspects. One reason may be that the mental image most people have of foaming streams and rivers, formed over three decades ago, has not faded entirely. This foam resulted from non or poorly biodegradable surfactants which are no longer used in modern aqueous cleaner formulations.
Then too, public environmental awareness has increased markedly in recent years. Some might say that, environmentalism has transcended its position as a mere social attitude to become a moral imperative. Many of us want to "do the right thing," environmentally speaking. To this end, regulations are enacted and new products designed and marketed. In the age of environmental marketing and awareness, we form perceptions regarding effects of new products on the environment, often, without complete scientific evidence. More comprehensive consideration of the total cost of environmentally negative practices, can lead to a realization that the most environmental choice can also be the best choice from an economic standpoint. When sustainable, environmental practices and choices of cleaning agents and cleaning techniques are integrated into normal practices without having to be specially labeled as environmental practices, but rather as best practices, they will be most successful.