Health Care Waste & Toxics Reduction Tips
for small and medium size health care facilities
Health care facilities of any size that provide housekeeping services can benefit from waste reduction and resource efficiency efforts.
Reasons for Change
Housekeepers may use cleaning agents, disinfectants, and detergents that contain formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals. They are also often in charge of collecting, transporting, and overseeing the storage of all wastes generated, including solid, bio-hazardous, and dangerous wastes. It is important employees 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.
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 sterilization/reprocessing services 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 Housekeeping Practices
This resource guide's home page has links to additional fact sheets in this series, plus other useful tools and information from the Washington State Department of Ecology and other experts.
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.
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.
See how Olmstead Medical Center reduced the number and toxicity of cleaning chemicals and improved efficiency.
Itasca Medical Center did a case study on waste reduction practices. See how they achieved a 67% cost reduction by switching from disposable to reusable pads (see page six).
For a case study and comparison table on microfiber mopping click here.
For a look at safety hazards and possible solutions in housekeeping, see OSHA’s Hospital eTool.
See one example of a quality assurance mobile management system.
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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)