The health care sector is now 18% of the economy and one of the largest users of chemicals. That’s why greening the sector is so important, and a priority activity of the Ecology Center.

 

Safer Materials for Health Care

Our goal is to make all of the products used in health care safe for people and the planet, and to leverage health care's purchasing power to make the entire material economy safer. Our most recent work focuses on three main areas: safer furnishings, safer cleaners and greener medical devices.  We've joined forces with the Healthier Hospitals Initiative to help develop and support the Safer Chemicals Challenge, part of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI).  More than 2000 hospitals have joined HHI, and more than 250 hospitals have committed tothe reduce toxic chemicals in products used in their hospitals. Stay tuned for the Healthier Hospitals Initiative v. 2.0 in late 2015.

 

Better Furniture is Available

Furniture used in health care can offgas or leach toxic chemicals into the hospital environment.  Chemicals like halogenated flame retardants and formaldehyde have been measured in hospital environments.  That's why we've teamed up with Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth to help hospitals identify furniture without some of the worst toxic chemicals.  You can see the lists of furniture without hazardous flame retardants, perfluorinated chemicals, formaldehyde and PVC here. And five major health systems recently announced that they will purchase furnishings without added flame retardants representing more than $80 million dollars in purchasing! Priorities in 2015 include extending the number of furniture and hospital furnishing manufacturers participating in the initiative.  Stay tuned!

 

Greener Medical Devices

One of the highest volume medical devices used in health care is IV bags. IV bags are often made of PVC or vinyl, a 'worst in class' plastic with significant life cycle impacts.  PVC medical devices are also made flexible with the addition of chemical additives called phthalates, with health impacts of their own.  Studies have raised concerns about the leaching of phthalates from medical devices, particularly for neonates that may have multiple medical procedures with phthalate-containing medical devices.  You can read more about the issue, and our work to promote the development and adoption of alternatives here.

Published on January 26, 2017

News

Press Release  |  October 10, 2019
The toxic chemicals used in fire retardants and non-stick cookware have been found in artificial turf carpet, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and The Ecology Center. This raises new public health and environmental concerns.
Press Release  |  October 10, 2019
The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, announced that it will phase out the sale of all carpets and rugs containing PFAS chemicals. The company will stop purchasing for distribution any carpets or rugs containing PFAS chemicals by the end of 2019.
News  |  September 27, 2019
Retired cancer doctor, Ecology Center Health Leadership Fellow alumna, and environmental health champion Elaine Chottiner discusses PFAS public education and legislative advocacy.
News  |  August 29, 2019
The discovery of toxic per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in many Michigan locations, the fear and concern these chemicals have stirred, and the difficulty posed to government officials and the public on how to respond feel familiar to those residents 50 and over.
News  |  August 29, 2019
On July 29, the Ecology Center participated in a community scientific forum in Washington, D.C. to discuss a range of concerns about the ongoing use of crumb rubbers. At the forum, the Ecology Center presented lead testing results from four playgrounds in D.C.  
News  |  July 25, 2019
Our past testing has exposed phthalates in our food supply. This led us to ask: how are phthalates contaminating our food? Which prompted us to undertake the largest study of its kind on vinyl food-handling gloves: Taking off the Toxic Gloves: An Investigation of Phthalates...