Mercury is On the Way Out, PVC is Next


In March, the Maine Hospital Association signed an historic agreement for the 39 hospitals in the state. Not only will they discontinue the use of mercury-containing products, but they are the first in the nation to call for a reduction in the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic medical supplies. The agreement also encourages reduction of PVC use in building materials: “Consider longer term replacement of PVC in durable medical products, construction materials, and furniture when opportunities present themselves.” The Maine agreement builds on the national “Hospitals for a Healthy Environment” (H2E) agreement signed in 1998 by the American Hospital Association and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the agreement, hospitals pledge to go “mercury free.” The H2E agreement also asks hospitals to address persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals — those that are long-lived and build up in the food chain. Maine’s agreement focuses on one major PBT chemical — dioxin, a toxic byproduct of incinerating hospital waste that contains PVC plastic. The Maine agreement commits hospitals to “continuously reduce the use and disposal of PVC plastic in hospitals” through a series of specific action steps with annual reporting on progress achieved. It calls for phasing out all products […]

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