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Hospitals can reduce mercury and solid waste

Hospital pollution prevention in California focuses on solid waste and mercury. Aggressive goals are being set to reduce impact on environmental health from hospital waste.

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Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) is creating a national movement for environmental sustainability in health care. H2E was jointly founded by the American Hospital Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Health Care Without Harm and the American Nurses Association. To achieve our vision, mission and goals, H2E is educating health care professionals about pollution prevention opportunities and providing a wealth of practical tools and resources to facilitate the industry’s movement toward environmental sustainability.

EPA Region 9 (which includes California) works with hospitals, tribes, state and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations to prevent pollution from hospitals. Under the nationwide Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) partnership program, EPA Region 9 supports the three goals to:

  • Virtually eliminate mercury waste generated by hospitals by 2005;
  • Reduce overall hospital waste volume by 33 percent by 2005 and 50 percent by 2010; and
  • Jointly identify additional substances to target for Pollution Prevention and waste reduction opportunities.

Over 130 hospitals, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations have signed up as H2E partners from Region 9.

To develop a sustainable and effective program, hospital leaders and employees will want to set goals, gather data, develop policies and coordinate a green team to work with you. For a Ten Step Guide to Getting Started and to see Sample Goals on the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment website. The often-complex process of data collection, goal setting and building momentum benefits from guidelines and connections.

Don't Reinvent the Wheel

Why spend countless hours researching a new program, investigating vendors and evaluating costs only to find that your peer at a neighboring hospital has just done the same piece of work and would have gladly shared his/her insights? State H2E partnerships provide a forum for hospitals to share strategies, vendor information and program successes. State H2E programs also can provide insight and recommendations to state hospital associations and regulatory agencies on environmental and regulatory issues.

Almost 200 California hospitals and organizations are active in this pollutions prevention initiative and the list can be found on the California - H2e website.

H2E provides an online searchable product directory for greening hospitals. These suppliers cover North America.

Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E)

The Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) Membership includes 170 hospitals and healthcare organizations and represents more than 95% of the general acute market in Southern California. Their websie provides links to a wide variety of hospital and health related resources.

If your local hospital is not listed in the H2E list of California hospitals working on pollution prevention, you might want to inquire about their plans and find ways to encourage and support local pollution prevention in these essential community services.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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