(i.e. PVC free; mercury free; waste management; less toxic products)
Often unknowingly, hospitals, clinics and service providers may purchase items that are toxic to workers or patients, or have serious environmental impacts. Healthcare Without Harm provides excellent guidance for healthcare agencies to implement sustainability into health services.
PVC plastic (also known as vinyl) is the most commonly used plastic in medical devices such as IV bags and tubing, and it has been used in a wide variety of other applications in the health care setting, such as disposable gloves, curtains and flooring. Unfortunately, this type of plastic creates a number of environmental health risks.
There are two key problems associated with PVC:
- Dioxin, a known human carcinogen, can be formed during the manufacture of PVC, and during the incineration or burning of PVC products.
- DEHP, a phthalate used to soften PVC plastic that can leach from PVC medical devices, is linked to reproductive birth defects and other illnesses.
Other considerations could include; washable or recyclable vs. disposable gowns and other “linens”, recycled content paper products, and latex free gloves.