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  |  June 1, 2021
Fifty-one years ago today, Elizabeth Grant Kingwill and seven other advocates formally founded the Ecology Center, as the organizers of America’s first and largest Earth Day events planned to keep the spirit of the new grassroots environmental movement alive.
News  |  May 28, 2021
Ecology Center found PFAS in all tested fertilizer and compost products. Check these products labels to find out the source of the materials. Ingredients listed as “biosolids” and “residuals” are code words for sewage sludge.
Press Release  |  May 25, 2021
Many home gardeners buy compost or commercial soil amendments to enhance soil nutrition. But new tests reveal concerning levels of toxic chemicals known as PFAS in fertilizer products which are commonly made from sewage sludge.
Press Release  |  March 30, 2021
The latest annual report card scoring retailer actions on toxic chemicals is out. About 2/3 of the companies have made progress over the last year.
News  |  October 16, 2020
We are fortunate to be able to highlight some victories related to protecting people from toxic PFAS in our drinking water and environment.
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.