Scope & Purpose – K-12

Scope & Purpose – K-12

Varsity Facility Services, a national janitorial services who uses the highest green cleaning methods, and an award winning member of ISSA, is proud to present a 10-part series of informative and vital blog posts from the “ISSA Clean Standard K-12 Schools 1014-2013 | Measure the Effectiveness of Cleaning”

Post #2 of 10:
Scope and Purpose

The Clean Standard: K-12 is intended to apply specifically to K-12 school facilities, including both public and private institutions, and may be applied in all geographic regions.

The Clean Standard: K-12 is based on the following:

  • (a) a building audit to assess the level of cleanliness at a school facility;
  • (b) periodic measurement of cleaning effectiveness using ATP meters; and
  • (c) establishment and implementation of corrective actions in the event the school is not achieving the desired level of cleaning effectiveness.

clean-libraryThese elements are intended to be used in a systematic process to determine the background condition and cleanliness of a school, and also provide for periodic measurement of cleaning effectiveness at the school facility.  This process makes it possible to assess and improve the effectiveness of cleaning processes and products used at a school facility.  In this regard, the Clean Standard: K-12 empowers schools to select a cleaning process that is the most effective and economical.

This is especially important in light of the growing body of studies that indicate effective cleaning has a positive impact on the health and productivity of students.  For example, it has been established that level of cleanliness is a key factor involved in the spread of viral disease in crowded indoor establishments including schools.  In addition, improved cleaning of floors and desks in schools has been shown to reduce upper respiratory symptoms.3  Furthermore, the exposure and health benefits associated with a reduction of airborne pollutants – achieved through effective cleaning practices – have been demonstrated in a long-term cleaning effectiveness study,4 while recent studies collectively indicate that the targeted cleaning of high touch points in schools result in reduced illnesses related to bacterial contamination, reduced sick building syndrome symptoms, and reduced absenteeism due to infectious illness.5-9

Consistent with such studies and findings, the K-12 Clean Standard research suggests a reasonable connection between ATP reduction and healthier indoor environments.  Concurrent with ATP testing, the researchers tested surfaces for culturable bacteria using a different method – RODAC plates.  The simultaneous testing demonstrated that a reduction in ATP was accompanied by a consistent reduction in culturable bacteria.  The researchers, therefore, were able to reasonably conclude that a reduction in ATP suggests both a cleaner and healthier surface.

While research has established that cleaning plays a critical role in the quality of the indoor environment, it is well-recognized that there are a number of additional factors that also impact indoor environmental quality.  Building maintenance practices such as moisture control, ventilation and air flow, and other factors also play a key role.


3 Walinder, R., D. Norback, G. Wieslander, G. Smedje, C. Erwall and P. Venge: Nasal patency and lavage biomarkers tin relation to settled dust and cleaning routines in schools. Scand. J. Work Environ. Health (25)(2):137-43 (1999).

Franke, D.L., E.C. Cole, K.E. Leese, K.K. Foarde, and M.A. Berry: Cleaning for improved indoor air quality: An initial assessment of effectiveness. Indoor Air 7:41–54 (1997).

Higashiyama, M., T. Ito, X. Han, et al.: Trial to control an outbreak of Panton-Valentine leukocidin-positive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus at a boarding school in Japan. Am. J. Infect Control 39:868-865 (2011).

6 Hostetler, K., M. Lux, K. Shelley, J. Drummond, and P. Laguna: MRSA as a health concern in athletic facilities. J. Environ. Health 74:18-25 (2011).

7 Nandrup-Bus, I.: Comparative studies of hand disinfection and hand-washing procedures as tested by pupils in intervention programs. Am. J. Infect. Control 39:450-455 (2010).

8 Zhang, X., Z. Zhao, T. Nordquist, L. Larsson, A. Sebastian, and D. Norback: A longitudinal study of sick building syndrome among pupils in relation to microbial components in dust in schools in China. Sci. Total Environ. 409:5263-5259 (2011).

9 Schulte, J., L. Williams, A. Jawaid, et al.: How we didn’t clean up until we washed our hands: Shigellosis in an elementary and middle school in North Texas. South. Med. J. 105:1-4 (2012).



As the leading trade association for the cleaning industry worldwide, ISSA is committed to helping its members change the way the world views cleaning. It promotes the vision that cleaning is an investment in human health, the environment, and an improved bottom line.

ISSA’s more than 6,400 members include distributors, manufacturers, manufacturer representatives, building service contractors, in-house service providers and associated service members. The association helps increase professionalism and member success by offering business tools, educational products, industry standards, publications, events and legislative and regulatory services that specifically focus on the professional cleaning industry and the value it provides.

For more information about ISSA, visit or call 800-255-4772.


Bill Balek

In his current role as Director of Environmental Services for ISSA, which he has held since April, 2010, Bill is involved in the development of public policy, programs and initiatives that are designed to facilitate the success of companies in the green cleaning marketplace. Projects in which he is currently or has recently been involved in include:

1. Managing Transpare, a web-based system designed to communicate the environmental, safety and health attributes of cleaning products.

2. Managing the research that will define "clean" from a public health perspective for K-12 schools as well as establishing scientifically the positive connection between cleaning and health, and student performance.

3. Participated on the EPA committee that developed a pilot program for "green" disinfectants and sanitizers.

4. Co-chaired the committee that developed the guidelines and specifications for the Illinois green cleaning for schools act.

5. Manage the alliance between ISSA and the U.S. EPA Design for the Environment which is designed to promote the development and production of environmentally preferable cleaning products.

In his other role as Director of Legislative Affairs for ISSA, which he has held since August 1985, Bill oversees the association's regulatory and legislative programs. Issues covered include safety and health, transportation, product formulation, and other issues germane to the cleaning industry. Over the past several years Bill has been focusing on issues related to environmentally preferable cleaning products and services.
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