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

PFAS in Fast Food Packaging
Press Release  |  August 6, 2020
The new report shows that all six food chains sampled had one or more food packaging items that likely contain toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances)—chemicals known to threaten human health.
News  |  July 21, 2020
A new report, The Mattress Still Matters, released by the Ecology Center and the Getting Ready for Baby (GRfB) campaign makes it easier for parents to make an educated choice about crib mattresses and reveals a need for transparency in the crib mattresses market.
Dow Chemical
Press Release  |  June 10, 2020
In the wake of the recent historic flood in Mid-Michigan, state, federal and local authorities, and Dow Chemical Corporation must work with due diligence and transparency to protect the health of the residents, wildlife and the environment they rely on.
News  |  March 19, 2020
As we adjust to life during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all taking urgent steps to protect our health, the health of the people we love, and the health of people most vulnerable.  The rapid spread of the virus is forcing changes to our day-to-day lives at breakneck speed.
News  |  February 16, 2020
Residents fought to keep the plant from opening, and then to shut it down, for thirty years. As a health hazard and noxious neighbor, the incinerator drew protest from citizens, environmental coalitions, and Canadian leaders across the river since planning began in the mid 1970s
News  |  November 13, 2019
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) happens each year toward the end of October. This year, the Ecology Center brought together lawmakers, impacted families, health professionals, and environmental organizations to discuss the best policies and practices.