The examples below show a few of the numerous opportunities to prevent pollution in the health care sector by conserving energy and water, greener purchasing and proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials. Consider the following:
- Hospitals use more than twice as much energy per square foot than office buildings. These high energy use patterns can translate into rapid payback on the purchase or retrofit costs for energy efficient products and equipment. U.S. estimates suggest that using energy efficient products and equipment can reduce use by an average of 20-30%. Dollar savings can be re-invested into patient care.
- A number of toxic materials are used in the manufacture of products and materials used in health care. These include; mercury, PVC, Paradichlorobenzene (used as a deodorant in urinal blocks) and Nonylphenol ethoxylates (a non-ionic surfactant found in cleaning products). There are environmental health and safety issues related to the use, handling and disposal of these products. In many cases effective substitute products, which do not contain toxic materials, are available. Green purchasing programs can be developed to favor cost effective products with a reduced impact on human health and the environment.
- Care and treatment of the average hospital patient can produce about 5.5 kg/day of waste. Reducing solid waste results in reduced disposal costs. In addition, if this waste is not properly separated it could needlessly increase the costs of specialized disposal.
Mercury Use and Reduction
- Mercury Use, Release and Reduction at NS Hospitals (PDF)
- Mercury In Hospitals Factsheet (PDF: 374k)
- Mercury in Health Care Checklist (PDF: 39k)
Pollution Prevention Presentations to the 2004 Atlantic Support Services Conference
- Why Green Your Facility? (PDF: 179k)
- Why Green Purchasing? (PDF: 115k)
- Rechargeable Battery and Cell Phone Recycling Program
Useful P2 Resources for Health Care Professionals
General Pollution Prevention in Healthcare
- C2P2 Healthcare Environet
- Health Care Without Harm
- Practice Greenhealth
- Sample Environmental Management System Guide
- Developing an Environmental Policy (generic) (PDF: 28k)