August 14, 2007

hospitals go green!

I had always thought getting bad plastics out of hospitals was a lost cause. But I was wrong! I read on USA that many hospitals are starting to use safer plastics in the neonatal care units, because the babies are very susceptible to the effects of the toxins. Specifically, many hospitals are starting to use products which do not use DEHP, or di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, in the plastic used in intravenous tubing, blood bags and other products . DEHP can leach a hormone-like chemical linked to reproductive problems.

As far as I can humbly tell, the new products are still made of PVC. I don't know how toxic they remain. PVC is incredibly toxic, especially during production and then again when incinerated. Both times it releases high levels of dioxins which are strong carcinogens. I am not sure if that has changed. The new PVC products without the DEHP weigh much less and are saving hospitals money—an added bonus. I am guessing they pay for waste disposal by weight?

I am glad to see hospitals on the green bandwagon - looking at lots of ways they can be greener. The article refers to a group called Health Care Without Harm. They are "an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations and religious groups." Their mission is to "transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment." Docs go green!

For a list of the top 10 green hospitals in the US see the list from The Green Guide.


Debbie said...

Don't get me started on hospital waste...we don't even RECYCLE at mine! All goes in the garbage. We're also in the midst of building a brand new cancer center; I'd be curious to know what they are doing to be more "green" but I'm guessing it's not much. Maybe I'll send our CEO the link to your post today!

The plastic problem is an interesting one and you're right, we use an incredible amount of plastic! From IV bags to tubing to syringes, etc., it's everywhere. Thanks for making us all think about it; hopefully the attention will force them to do something about it!

Gift of Green said...

Thanks for a great post! A while back I posted on green nursing...
Makes sense that a place that works to keep you well should incorporate some green practices too.