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Health Care Without Harm

Friday, July 13, 2018

Health Care Without Harm

This is an organisation of hospitals, healthcare systems, professionals, local authorities, research and academic institutions and environmental health organisations. Health Care Without Harm works to transform healthcare worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice.

They provide guidance documents, briefings and examples of best practice that show that successful alternatives already exist. They also work with the healthcare sector to help develop better policies and practices to reduce impacts on the environment and to protect human health.

The key issues they deal with are:

Chemicals – concerns around our exposure to man-made synthetic compounds including endocrine disrupting chemicals and other toxic and carcinogenic substances, particularly the exposure of children and developing babies.

Climate change and health – health issues arising from the impacts of climate change and measures to reduce carbon emissions.

Green buildings – working to raise awareness of air quality issues in modern buildings, from VOCs, adhesives and poor ventilation. This extends to the sustainable design and construction of healthcare establishments.

Sustainable procurement - the huge influence the healthcare sector can have if it pursues sustainable procurement policies. Could have an impact on the economy as well as ensuring the most sustainable goods and services are available to the healthcare system.

Pharmaceuticals – issues include antibiotic resistance and antimicrobials in waste water. Often wastewater treatment doesn’t break down chemicals that are then found in the environment. Better drugs – ones that breakdown more readily, better prescribing practices coupled with better information on safe disposal methods could have a significant beneficial impact.

Sustainable food – the size of the healthcare sector gives it an influence on food production and distribution practices – which at present are not always designed with good health in mind. Healthy eating to be promoted throughout healthcare sector.

Waste and resources – reducing waste and the cost of waste management. Most healthcare waste is similar to domestic waste and can be segregated and recycled in the same way. Proper segregation means that the small amount of infectious, hazardous or radioactive wastes can be dealt with appropriately and cost effectively.

RESOURCES

You can find out more about Health Care Without Harm from:

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  • My Year at NetRegs, A reflection on my time as an intern with the NetRegs team at SEPA. An overview of all the activities and projects I had the opportunity to participate in during my Bright Green Environmental Placement.

  • A day with Hydrology, SEPA's hydrometry unit is responsible for around 400 gauging stations and 350 rainfall monitoring sites. River gauging stations are important as they allow river levels to be monitored so flood events can be predicted and flood warnings sent out.

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