Albany, NY (January 16, 2005) – One of the key organizers of a proposed cleaning industry research institute expressed frustration that an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) conference sponsored by the US Surgeon General and the National Institute of Health (NIH) last week failed to include any consideration of the impact that cleaning and janitorial functions have on public health.
Jim Harris, president of Concepts IV and a founding member of an industry coalition seeking to establish a new research organization to conduct research on the connections between cleaning and maintenance and public health, said he was dismayed that the role of cleaning and maintenance was not included on the agenda of the conference, which was entitled “Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment.”
“Cleaning and building maintenance have been proven to have an important impact on the indoor environment and on the health of those living and working in those buildings,” Harris stated. He noted studies done by the University of North Carolina and the University of Arizona showing strong correlations between cleaning and public health.
“This Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment should have included agenda items focusing on the cleaning and maintenance of buildings and facilities,” Harris said. “I am dismayed that the JanSan industry was completely ignored by the organizers of this conference.”
Harris and other industry activists are working on the creation of a proposed Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI), which will conduct research on various industry topics, including the connection between hygiene, cleaning, building maintenance and public health.
Harris said that one of CIRI’s roles would be to make sure that the JanSan industry and its interests are fully represented at future conferences on the indoor environment.
“We think it is important,” Harris continued, “that our industry have a voice in the formulation of public policy regarding all aspects of the indoor environment. Conferences such as this are clearly part of the process of developing a public record of the need for new regulations and laws governing the indoor environment. Our industry must be represented on the agenda and in the planning of such meetings. That’s one of the roles that we see for CIRI.”
At the NIH/Surgeon General’s conference, Dr. Jonathan Samet, professor and chairman, Department of Epidemiology, John Hopkins University, said that the cleaning & maintenance of buildings was not included on the agenda because of a lack of data relating cleaning & maintenance to public health issues. Samet urged the JanSan industry to collaborate its efforts with other industries and to provide funding for future research into this topic.
“That’s exactly why we’ve started this effort to form CIRI,” Harris said. “We recognized the need for an industry-wide research institute that both consolidates existing data and funds research for new data on cleaning and health. Plus, we need to insure that the JanSan industry is not excluded from future conferences of this sort.”
The concept of CIRI was introduced to nearly 50 JanSan industry leaders at a meeting in New Orleans in November. Following that meeting, a steering committee of 34 people has been formed to help define CIRI’s mission and vision, the institute’s structure and funding, and the requirements for membership. The steering committee will meet on March 1 and 2 in Chicago to begin work on the CIRI charter, which will then be presented to a larger group of industry leaders in June.
“We want CIRI to represent our entire industry,” Harris said. “That includes trade associations, manufacturers, building service contractors, building owners and more. The fact that we were overlooked as an industry by the Surgeon General and the National Institute of Health only verifies the need for this type of research institute.”
Those interested in participating in the formation of the research institute should contact the project coordinator, Frank Wiley at 513.856.7130.