Overview & Background – K-12

Overview & Background – K-12

ISSAVarsity 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 #1 of 10:
Overview and Background

The goal of the Standard for Measuring the Effectiveness of Cleaning in K-12 Schools (hereinafter referred to as the Clean Standard: K-12) is to provide schools with a tool that will help them measure and monitor the effectiveness of the cleaning processes at their facilities thereby contributing to the quality of the indoor environment for the benefit of students and staff.

The Clean Standard: K-12 is a performance-oriented standard that is focused on:

  • The desired levels of cleanliness that can be reasonably achieved;
  • Recommended monitoring and inspection procedures designed to measure the effectiveness of cleaning procedures using quantitative measures (i.e., ATP Meters) and traditional methods (i.e., sight, smell, touch);  and
  • How to use the results of monitoring and inspection to evaluate and improve the cleaning processes and products that are critical to maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff.

The Standard is focused on achieving and maintaining an effective cleaning program through the use of a systematic approach and standardized guidelines.  As such, the Clean Standard: K-12 provides schools with a framework and protocol for using ATP meters along with qualitative methods to measure and assess cleaning effectiveness on a periodic and consistent basis.

Perhaps more importantly, the Standard provides a structured approach to addressing those situations where the school facility’s condition and cleanliness is less than desirable.  By assessing cleaning effectiveness, schools can improve the cleaning process and ensure that a desired level of cleanliness is achieved and maintained at school facilities.  Effective cleaning is especially important in light of the growing body of evidence that concludes that improved hygiene in schools results in reduced illnesses and reduced absenteeism.

classroom-empty desk-chalk-boardThe Standard was developed through a consensus based process designed to garner the input of all major stakeholders in an open and transparent manner.  The Clean Standard: K-12 development process allowed for stakeholder involvement by participation on the Development or Stakeholder Committees, both of which provided valuable input and feedback during the review periods.

The development process was guided by independent and unbiased scientific research, including thousands of ATP measurements from high touch surfaces recognized as posing health risks in schools (i.e.: student desks, cafeteria tables, restroom sinks and stall doors).  The ATP measurements were conducted in numerous schools across the United States to account for potential geographic or climatic variations.

The details of the research are set forth in “ATP as a Marker for Surface Contamination of Biological Origin in Schools and as a Potential Approach to the Measurement of Cleaning Effectiveness,” as published in the June 2013 issue of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene by Shaughnessy and Cole, et.al.  Each school selected its own cleaning method which was then rigorously monitored for compliance by research personnel.  Following cleaning, sampling procedures were conducted on the cleaned surface.

test-tubesThe research indicated that standardized measurement of cleaning effectiveness could be used as a practical approach to improve the cleaning practices and contribute to a healthier school environment.1

Specifically, the research has validated ATP (adenosine triphosphate) measurement systems as a “…relatively simple, rapid and affordable measure of the level of biologically sourced contamination on the interior surfaces of schools.”  Further the research concluded that ATP is an “…excellent candidate marker for the monitoring of biologically derived soiling/cleanliness…”

In addition, the research has produced reasonable range values based on ATP measurements (for three different ATP meters) for each surface type tested, and that these ranges “…may be used in a standardized and routine approach to the monitoring of cleaning effectiveness in school buildings based on detection and quantification of biologically derived soiling.”2

While ATP does not directly measure the total contamination on a surface, the research has concluded ATP luminescence is presently the best available quantitative measure of hard surface cleaning effectiveness.  It is hoped that further research and development will yield additional measurement methods for other contaminants.

Richard J. Shaughnessy, Eugene C. Cole, Demetrios Moschandreas, and Ulla Haverinen-Shaughnessy, (2013): “ATP as a Marker for Surface Contamination of Biological Origin in Schools and as a Potential Approach to the Measurement of Cleaning Effectiveness.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 10:6, 336-346 (2013).

2 Id.



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 www.issa.com 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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