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

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...
Press Release  |  July 25, 2019
An alarming new report finds that disposable PVC food-handling gloves used in restaurants nationwide may contain toxic plasticizer chemicals called ortho-phthalates (THAL-eights) that leach into the food we eat.
Press Release  |  July 10, 2019
July 11, 2019—Today, Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program released its first-ever company ranking survey in the new report, Children’s Car Seat Chemical Policy Report Card 2019. The study surveyed 12 leading car seat companies on their corporate chemical policies & practices.
News  |  June 27, 2019
When school drinking water is sampled and analyzed, it is not uncommon for schools to find lead in many different water sources. This happens because plumbing materials may contain lead that leaches into the drinking water for students and school faculty and staff members.
Press Release  |  May 6, 2019
New test results show elevated lead in rubber shred at playground in Washington, D.C.
News  |  April 30, 2019
As organizers and advocates of the Breathe Free Detroit campaign along with earlier campaigns, Ecology Center staff have been fighting for the closure of the Detroit trash incinerator for many years.  You may be wondering why it's closed now after so many years.