Health Care Waste & Toxics Reduction Tips
for small and medium size health care facilities
Health care facilities of any size can benefit from waste reduction and resource efficiency efforts in their facility maintenance activities.
Reasons for Change
Maintenance services may generate solvents, degreasers, paints, aerosols, boiler water treatment chemicals, CFC’s, mercury-containing devices and lighting, PCB-containing ballasts, batteries, flammable products, and other hazardous substances and dangerous wastes. Personal protective equipment is essential, and many of these wastes require special handling and compliance with dangerous waste regulations.
It is important for employees to learn how to work safely with the products they use, and how to use safer alternatives when available. Because all dangerous waste needs to be collected, stored, and recycled, treated, or disposed appropriately, it pays to reduce the generation of these wastes and reduce the risks they pose to employees and patients.
By assessing and implementing one or more of the practices described here and on the accompanying downloadable table, health care facilities can enjoy:
Opportunities for Action
Specific tips on ways facilities maintenance can reduce and prevent toxic wastes and resource inefficiencies are listed in this fact sheet’s downloadable/printable table. A sampling of these tips is listed below.
Basic Best Management Practices
Next Steps to Improve Administrative Practices
See this resource guide’s home page for a list of general resources on waste reduction and resource efficiency for hospitals and other health care facilities.
The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive has a Green Cleaning Pollution Prevention Calculator to quantify the projected environmental benefits of using green cleaning products.
Manage energy and water use at your facility.
Green Seal certified paints and coatings.
To see a list of Green Seal certified industrial and institutional cleaners.
To see a list of Green Seal certified floor strippers and finishes.
Eco-Logo has a list of certified green cleaning products.
For more information on low-VOC adhesives, view these product lists.
See how Olmstead Medical Center reduced the number and toxicity of cleaning chemicals and improved efficiency.
See Northumberland Health Care Center’s green hospital initiatives.
For appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety measures, view OSHA’s Hospital eTool.
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This information is brought to you by the Washington Department of Ecology/Toxics Reduction Unit with assistance from the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) . June 2010 (draft 06-23-2010)