Hospitals Need to Green Up

Saw this interesting piece today about hospitals not exactly creating healthy environments for us to work or get better in:

The Soil Association reported on 29th January that the Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) has been selected to host one of a series of national NHS Sustainability Day roadshows aimed at making the health service more sustainable, sharing ideas and inspiring others to be greener  There will be presentations & workshops. 

A few years ago a large study was carried out at North Carolina University in US which found that hospitals can have a surprising unhealthy side – inadvertently contributing to illness and pollution by exposing patients and staff to toxins from chemical cleaning products. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and toluene are released into the air from cleaning fluids etc and are inhaled by patients and staff.   Inadequate ventilation and solvents contribute to poor air quality, causing longer patient recovery times and more sick days for staff. 

Some US hospitals now build eco-friendly facilities that reduce harmful emissions, conserve energy and use natural light. The use of mercury in hospitals is being reduced.  Some hospital incinerators can give off mercury and dioxins, which are proven to cause cancer.  Wastewater from hospitals contains toxic cleaning chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs, many of which are not removed by sewage-treatment plants & remain in the water supply.   Some water companies have said that they are not able to remove all the medical drug residues from drinking water.   Hospitals have huge buying power so they could negotiate for suppliers to provide safer products. 

I absolutely agree with that. I live quite near a hospital and sometimes, if I walk a certain path, I can smell the chemicals coming up through the manhole covers. Disgusting. And the place is surrounded by residential housing. Really makes me wonder.

I saw another interesting news item the other day that relates to this subject too. I can’t remember where it was now but it was a group bemoaning the fact hospitals do not use copper instead of stainless steel for door handles etc. It has been long known that copper is a fantastic anti-bacterial  and tests have shown that if you put MRSA onto copper, it’s life is about 90 minutes, whereas do the same on stainless steel and it lasts for days. If it’s around for days, how many more people are at risk of infecting themselves? Doesn’t make sense. Bet it comes down to money yet again, would cost a lot to replace but surely we should be making new things in copper to take advantage of this easy and chemical-free anti-bacterial.


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