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Mercury and PBT Reduction in Healthcare The Campaign for Environmentally Responsible Health Care Health Care Without Harm.

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Presentation on theme: "Mercury and PBT Reduction in Healthcare The Campaign for Environmentally Responsible Health Care Health Care Without Harm."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mercury and PBT Reduction in Healthcare The Campaign for Environmentally Responsible Health Care Health Care Without Harm

2 The Mission of Health Care Without Harm To transform the health care industry so it is no longer a source of environmental harm by eliminating pollution in health care practices without compromising safety or care.

3 HCWH International coalition for environmentally responsible healthcare 320 member organizations in 30 countries ANA, CHW, CHE, APHA, SHA, OCEH!

4 HCWH Initiatives Participation in H2E Mercury Workgroup –“Making Medicine Mercury Free” –Roundups, Pharmacies PVC/DEHP Workgroup Alternative Technologies International Green Buildings SHEA, CleanMed Maine MOU

5 The Nasty Nine Chlordane Dieldrin DDT and its breakdown products Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) Mercury Octachlorostyrene (OCS) PCBs 2,3,7,8 TCDD (Dioxin) Toxaphene

6 International Joint Commission 6th Biennial Report, 1992 “We conclude that persistent toxic substances are too dangerous to the biosphere and to humans to permit their release in any quantity. “

7 National Mercury Combustion Sources USEPA 1997

8 Ethical Considerations Fish consumption advisories in 40 states 5 million people regularly eat contaminated fish from the Great Lakes CDC - 1 in 10 women of childbearing age are at risk of having newborns with neurological problems

9 Economic Considerations Clean up costs Butterworth Hospital New Hampshire Hospital Potential regulatory costs 300 ppt pretreatment level in Duluth, MN Hazardous waste/training costs JAHCO compliance

10 Obstacles to Mercury Elimination Reluctance to change Lack of awareness of alternatives and economics Minimal understanding of the human and environmental impacts

11 Hospital Mercury Current and Historical Use Batteries Fluorescent Lights Mercury containing devices Dental Amalgam Lab Chemicals Pharmaceutical products Preservatives Housekeeping supplies

12 Mercury-free Thermometer



15 Mercury-free Sphygmomanometer

16 Mercury-free Sphygmomanometers Aneroid most common Eliminates risk of mercury-spill and associated training costs Journal of Human Hypertension –Study of 444 Hg units..”the majority… had serious problems which would give rise to major errors in bp measurement Mayo Study– aneroids provide accurate pressure measurements Arch Intern Med March 2001

17 Mercury-free Sphygmomanometers NIH/Mayo/ etc Ask proper ?s –What is reputation of supplier? –What type of testing? –What is calibration warranty? –Will the manufacturer dispose of Hg units? –Is cuffing system latex free?

18 Zenkers and B5 Traditionally used in histopathology labs Can be phased out to mercury free alternatives –Duluth hospitals –Kaiser





23 B5 Filtration

24 Mercury Filter Wastes

25 B5 Hazardous Waste

26 Used B5 Management Some Histopathology texts recommend precipitation of B5 to “remove” mercury. Precipitated B5 supernatant may contain 25 ppm of mercury. one liter discharge in 20,000 gal (75,000 l) flow will exceed WLSSD pretreatment limit of 0.300 ppb. All B5 should be sent to a mercury refiner.

27 Alternative to Mercury Fixatives Formalin Zn Formalin –Anatech 1-800- ANATECH IBF –Surgipath 1-800-225-3035 St Mary’s Duluth Clinic 218-726-4000

28 Historical Sources of Mercury Located in the wastewater piping infrastructure from historical use builds up in low points and in biomass lining piping traps are the big easy

29 Phased Mercury Elimination Discontinue purchase of mercury containing equipment Replace Hg equipment Educate employees Child birth education Mercury free fixatives Fluorescents management Clean traps Housekeeping supplies Mechanical switches

30 Making Medicine Mercury Free Pledge program for hospitals and clinics <500 facilities Non regulatory Voluntary compact with community National Institutes of Health Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: Boston, MA Kaiser Permentente, Catholic Healthcare West Facilities

31 St. Mary’s Medical Center Developed a Zero Discharge team Current mercury use and management practices documented through a written survey Performed wastewater monitoring and reagent analysis

32 Mercury Elimination Task Force Understand sources Understand fate in the environment Employee education Mercury elimination policy

33 Innovators Looking at mercury-free preservatives Historical sources Letters of support for mercury disclosure Roundups Signing MMMF pledge

34 US Dioxin Emission Estimates From Sources USEPA 1998

35 Inventory of Sources of Dioxin in the United States USEPA, 1998

36 Medical Waste and Dioxin created as an unwanted byproduct during processes that involve chlorine, heat and organic matter As compared to solid waste, medical waste contains a high percentage of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic PVC is more than 50% chlorine

37 Daily Dioxin Intake According to the EPA, the average levels of dioxin in all Americans is “at or approaching levels” where we can expect to see a variety of health effects EPA also estimates that adults consume 300-600 times the daily “safe” dioxin intake levels Children consume 50 times more than the “safe” adult levels EPA draft reassessment includes breast fed infants as highly exposed population

38 Health Effects Associated with Dioxin and Dioxin- like Chemicals USEPA 1994 Hormonal changes Decreased fertility Endometriosis Ovarian dysfunction Altered immune response Reduced sperm count Decreased testis size Feminization of hormonal and behavioral responses

39 Dioxin Elimination Strategies Educate your organization start with small pilot projects end medical waste incineration and use alternative treatment technologies purchase PVC alternatives when available request alternatives from your general purchasing organization

40 Chlorine Free Alternatives Exist For: –IV bags –PVC containers –Vinyl shower curtains –Chlorine bleach and cleaning products –Vinyl patient id bracelets –Chlorine bleached paper products –Vinyl body bags

41 DEHP ( di-2-ethylhexyl Phthalate ) Listed on draft US EPA, RCRA, PBT list “plasticizer” that makes rigid PVC flexible 40% avg up to 80% by weight DEHP –does not bind to PVC –Leaches into liquids,Off-gasses into air –used in all disposable, flexible medical PVC products

42 National Toxicology Program Expert Panel on Phthalate Esters “Serious concern” about DEHP exposures in the treatment of critically ill infants “Concern” about DEHP exposures in infants and toddlers “Concern” about DEHP exposures in pregnant women

43 Dioxin (PVC) Reduction and Elimination Resolutions American Public Health Association Minnesota Medical Association Minnesota Public Health Association Catholic Healthcare West Maine Hospital Association

44 PVC/DEHP Reduction Policies NICU in Boston requests DEHP-free products CMA DEHP resolution CHW requests disclosure of PVC in products

45 Persistent Toxic Cycle

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