chemical footprint

Report examines chemical footprint of health care products

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A new report released by U.S non-profit Clean Production Action (CPA) assessed the chemical footprint – the presence of hazardous chemicals – of more than 250 products commonly found in hospital pediatric patient rooms.

Hazardous chemicals in products are prompting health care organizations to ask suppliers whether or not their products contain these chemicals. For this report, pediatrics was chosen for evaluation because children are often more sensitive to toxic chemical exposure than adults.

“This first chemical footprint of products used in pediatric patient rooms demonstrates how health care organizations can measure their chemical footprint and leads to more informed purchasing decisions,” said Mark S. Rossi, PhD, lead author and executive director of CPA.

“Having chemical footprint data reveals where CoHCs [chemicals of high concern] are in products, which in turn helps us make better purchasing decisions that advance our mission of health,” added Kyle Tafuri, director of sustainability at Hackensack-Meridian Health.

The report evaluated four categories of products commonly found or used in California-based pediatric patient rooms: medical supplies, personal care products, furniture and furnishings, and cleaning and disinfecting products. The results included:

  • Almost half (45 per cent) of the 253 products evaluated contained one or more CoHCs to human health and the environment, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, phthalates, Bisphenol A (BPA), and other carcinogens and reproductive toxicants identified by California Proposition 65-an initiative to address growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • Intravenous (IV), enteral feeding and respiratory therapy products were the medical supplies with the greatest number of products containing CoHCs.
  • A number of products – including enteral feeding tubes and all of the personal care products – featured one or more supplier selling one product with CoHCs, while another supplier sold a comparable product without CoHCs.

CPA states that with chemical footprint data in hand, health care organizations can measure their progress in reducing their footprint. For example, if health care suppliers eliminated PVC and its associated CoHCs from the medical supplies reviewed in this survey, health care organizations would eliminate 75 per cent of the CoHCs in medical supplies.

For more information, Clean Production Action will be hosting a webinar on December 19: What is the chemical footprint of health care products?

CPA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to design and deliver strategic solutions for green chemicals, sustainable materials and environmentally preferable products.

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