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Sea Mar teaches safer cleaning practices to Spanish-speaking community

A Sea Mar staff person providing virtual outreach services at their desk. They are holding up a safer product and talking to a camera on a small tripod.

Sea Mar Community Health Centers (Sea Mar) was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their work to reduce hazardous exposures among the Latino community in South King County. The award, Safer Choice Partner of the Year, honors their outstanding commitment to getting the word out to Spanish-speaking immigrant communities about Safer Choice products and safer cleaning practices.  

Sea Mar provides quality, comprehensive health, human, housing, educational and cultural services to diverse communities throughout Washington state. Three years ago, the Haz Waste Program and Sea Mar started a partnership to provide education and outreach services to reduce hazardous exposure to cleaning chemicals. In coordination with the Haz Waste Program, Sea Mar conducted research, provided training in English and Spanish, taught in-home safer cleaning practices to 76 Spanish-speaking households in South King County, and provided education on Safer Choice-certified products.  

According to Ninfa Quiroz, Community Relations Director at Sea Mar, there are attitudes and barriers that prevent community members from using safer cleaning products in their homes. 

“Some reasons many in our community were not using safer cleaning products were because they were not familiar with them. They also had the perception that they didn’t clean as well as the cleaners with a strong smell,” said Ninfa. “Also, the impact of mass media, like television, creates confusion and the belief that their homes are full of germs and bacteria.” Ninfa Quiroz stated that exposure to hazardous cleaning products is a leading public health issue because the chemicals and scents can trigger headaches, asthma attacks, nausea, lack of energy, and other health issues.  

“I have seen the harmful impacts of cleaning products increased markedly over the past years,” Ninfa said. “This is why our partnership with the Haz Waste Program is so important. The community is learning that there are products available in the market that don’t endanger their families or the environment and help avoid the negative health effects on people. The safer products that the Haz Waste Program recommends are effective, inexpensive, and safe for everybody and the environment.” 

Sea Mar staff noted that providing safer cleaning products during trainings made a significant impact on participants.  

“The participants not only received the information but tried the products in real-time. The participants mentioned that the products are of high quality and clean well. Most participants have also expressed that they do not get the negative side effects of the chemically-based cleaning products, such as headaches,” Ninfa Quiroz said.   

As a health care organization, Sea Mar staff believes strongly in prevention. They feel grateful to teach methods that will reduce the Latino community’s exposure to hazardous chemicals and products. COVID-19 brought a different perspective on how to offer these trainings. Due to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, many of the in-person trainings transitioned to virtual trainings. The team adapted new virtual and social platforms like WhatsApp, Zoom, and Facebook to continue working with community members.  

To learn more about Sea Mar and their work, visit

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