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Chemicals of Concern for the Health Sector
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

This document is based on the report Chemicals of Concern to Health and Environment published by Health Care Without Harm and UNDP in 2018. The chemicals listed in the document were carcinogen, mutagen, endocrine disruptor or reproductive hazards and/or bioaccumulative and persistent to the environment based on the authoritative lists.

Extracted from the 2018 report, the current document includes the list of chemicals used by the health care sector and/or included in health products. In addition, the document includes case examples that demonstrate how hospitals have successfully substituted chemicals and chemicals in products with more sustainable alternatives.

The case studies showcase how health systems are moving away from hazardous products by substituting with safer alternatives.

The intended audience for this document are health sector procurement officers, sustainability coordinators, and others concerned with procuring and using safer and more sustainable materials. The document is designed to help health care facilities identify the type of hazards, the application and use of the chemicals, their safer alternatives. The list can also be used by suppliers, in order to identify products containing the chemicals for elimination or substitution with less hazardous, clinically appropriate alternatives.

February 24, 2021Default
Document Type: 
.pdf
Document Language: 
English
Surya Namaskar-inspired full body workout
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

Surya Namaskar-inspired full body workout


Advocacy update: Confronting climate change in Massachusetts
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

On Feb. 7, Governor Baker returned the Next-Generation Roadmap bill to the Massachusetts Legislature with amendments. The governor previously vetoed the bill and in response, lawmakers quickly re-filed, passed, and returned an identical bill to the Governor’s desk before the end of January. 

Baker had previously cited insufficient time to amend the bill and concerns about potential misalignment between the legislation and his administration’s 2050 Decarbonization roadmap report and a draft Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) for 2030. These two reports and an accompanying letter of determination “detail policies to equitably and cost-effectively reduce emissions and combat climate change” and set the 2030 GHG emission limit at 45% below 1990 levels. When pressed, the administration dubiously claimed achieving 50% by 2030 would cost $6B.

A joint op-ed between Health Care Without Harm and the Alliance for Business Leadership called for the legislature and Governor Baker to work together to pass the Next-Generation Roadmap bill stating, “this particular piece of legislation will set in motion an economically-sound, equitable, clean energy transformation that is aligned with the net-zero future that the next generation deserves.“

Health Care Without Harm continues to work with advocacy partners, members of the Baker administration, and the legislature regarding provisions in the bill. In addition to supporting the more stringent 2030 target and sector sublimits, Health Care Without Harm strongly supports efforts to further strengthen the state’s environmental justice policy, updating it for the first time in two decades. Two of the state’s leading health systems, Boston Medical Center and Mass General Brigham are among those who have supported these updates

Massachusetts’ legislative session, which is two-years long, just began on Jan. 5. Rather than draw out the enactment of the climate bill, there is broad support to resolve the bill swiftly and to turn attention to its implementation and pursuit of other policy priorities before the filing deadline for new legislation on Feb. 19.

One priority on the horizon is a re-file of An Act Protecting Public Health and Reducing Health Care Costs in Massachusetts (also known as the Health Equity Calculator bill). This bill would enable Massachusetts to better account for and integrate health benefits into decision-making, including related health care cost savings or containment associated with energy policy implementation.  

If you are interested in learning more and getting involved, please contact Eugenia Gibbons, Health Care Without Harm’s director of climate policy in Massachusetts.

February 22, 2021US & Canada
Can Kaiser Permanente demonstrate diesel generators should be on the way out?
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

Kaiser Permanente is preparing to begin a microgrid demonstration project at a hospital in Ontario, California with the goal of proving diesel generators are no longer necessary as a hospital’s primary emergency power source.  

“From our perspective, we’re interested in being able to use other options for resiliency besides the diesel generators,” Seth Baruch Kaiser Permanente’s national director of energy and utilities says.

Funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC), the demonstration project will connect a microgrid to a critical power branch that supports essential services, emergency room operations, ventilators, imaging, and operating room equipment. The microgrid will include 2.2 MW of solar, a 1 MW fuel cell from Bloom Energy, and a 9 MWh battery. The project will also include a demonstration virtual power plant, with power provided from microgrids located in up to three different utility territories.

California is increasingly focused on possible alternatives to diesel generators due to the state’s ambitious climate goals and the increases in the number and length of power outages due to the state’s public safety power shut-offs as a wildfire prevention strategy. The Energy Conservation and Management Committee of the state’s Hospital Building Safety Board recently authored a white paper about microgrids for health care facilities that details technical, supply chain, code, and regulatory issues pertaining to microgrids.

Kaiser Permanente and Charge Bliss will work together again on this innovation after collaborating on a CEC-funded microgrid project at Kaiser Permanente’s Richmond, Calif. Hospital. It was the first time a hospital in California implemented a microgrid that connected renewable energy and battery storage to a pre-existing, diesel-fueled backup power system. The Richmond microgrid is connected to the life safety branch, supporting items important during an emergency for safety but not essential services.

The new Kaiser Permanente Ontario microgrid will have 10 times the capacity of the Richmond microgrid and will be able to operate 10 hours or more in island mode. “If we can essentially have the microgrid be the first line of defense and only use the generators as a back-up to the back-up, there may be virtually no cases in which the generators would be necessary except as a stand-by,” Baruch says. 

Kaiser Permanente’s new demonstration project could help provide evidence of the feasibility and reliability of microgrid solutions to provide safe, clean back-up power as we move to decarbonize health care and reduce state and national emissions. 

February 22, 2021US & Canada
Is the regulation of nano/biocide-treated articles sufficient to protect health and environment?
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

The regulation of nano/biocide-treated articles is not keeping up with the development of new products and falls short on ensuring safety.

At a time of increased public health awareness, it is important to provide clarity on the use and regulation of nano/biocide-treated articles and their safety and impact on human health and the environment. Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe, along with 12 other health, environment, and justice organisations, wrote to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) seeking clarifications on both the applicable legal framework, and risk management measures in place for such products.

Today on the EU market you can find products such as face masks treated with silver, zinc oxide, or copper nanoparticles, “anticovid” paper containing nanostructured zinc-silver, or nanosilver-containing surface disinfectants - the list goes on. Demand is growing for antimicrobial and antiviral nanocoatings, and the global nano-colloidal silver market is expected to rise at a significant rate between now and 2025 due to “pandemic protection accelerating investment in nanotechnology”.

In their public response (available here) ECHA confirmed that even if treated articles/products contain biocides (therefore potentially harmful substances), we have to trust that the manufacturers will only use approved active substances or substances covered by the Biocides Review Programme. ECHA also indicated that we must trust manufacturers to follow the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) labelling requirements. Yet the 2019 BEF-1 report (report of the first harmonised enforcement project on treated articles) reveals that these labels provided inadequate information in 36% of cases, and that basic information was often missing. We therefore have reason to suspect that a number of the nano/biocide-treated articles that are increasingly coming on the market since the COVID-19 pandemic are in fact not compliant with labelling requirements under the BPR.

Whilst there are a number of good measures in place to ensure that biocidal products are fit for purpose, following ECHA’s response, we believe that further measures are necessary to ensure that biocide treatment of an article is fit for purpose. This should be done according to recognised and harmonised test criteria appropriate to products’ purpose and use conditions. The efficacy of biocidal treatment in products cannot be “assumed” based on the known efficacy/general biocidal properties of the active substance alone - we need proof that treated products can provide a sufficient effect on one or several target organism groups.

It appears that as long as treated articles do not require authorisation - a process that ensures safety and efficacy and is supervised by the competent authorities - we have no way of verifying what manufacturers are “promising”.

We welcome the decision that a facemask claiming to “protect against viruses and bacteria” should be regarded as a biocidal product, however, we would emphasise that consumer protection should not be determined so heavily by the language used by manufacturers (which is easy to change), but rather on the function(s) that the product actually fulfils.

ECHA’s reply has also emphasised that determining if a treated product is a biocidal product (which requires an authorisation) or a treated article is not always straightforward and in fact requires a case-by-case assessment of the specific product. This also requires additional effort and capacity from authorities to address these cases, the number of which is growing considerably. Until 2011, these case-by-case decisions were actually published, and we would very much encourage ECHA (or the European Commission) to restart a similar procedure under the BPR, ensuring that decisions are transparent and understandable, help to harmonise decisions within the EU, and support authorities’ products surveillance.

We welcome the decision that a facemask claiming to “protect against viruses and bacteria” should be regarded as a biocidal product, however, we would emphasise that consumer protection should not be determined so heavily by the language used by manufacturers (which is easy to change), but rather on the function(s) that the product actually fulfils.

We also must emphasise the responsibility of decision-makers in the EU, as well as producers and retailers, to keep the use of biocides in consumer products to a minimum. The fundamental question is, how helpful is treating surfaces with biocides in the fight against microorganisms? Currently, there is no sufficient evidence that the presence of antimicrobial agents in clothing, furniture, or plastic adds any value to routine cleaning and disinfection.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, antimicrobial impregnated products are increasingly being offered up as an added tool to reduce the burden of Coronaviruses – companies are not only offering these products to hospitals, but direct to consumers as well. Again, the purported specific advantage of biocide treatment is frequently questionable.

After a period of initial great uncertainty and one year into the pandemic, the evidence is now clear that Coronavirus is transmitted predominantly through the air and there has been too much focus on surfaces. Catching COVID-19 from contact with clothing, furniture, paper/plastic packaging cannot be excluded, but it is much less likely than from direct inhalation, according to more and more experts. At the same time, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the serious risks of excessive biocide use when tackling antimicrobial resistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Common sense suggests that a more balanced perspective is needed to curb excessive use of biocides these days. The paradox in the current pandemic is that in fighting against one virus, we can actually harm people’s health and environment through repetitive exposure to harmful chemicals, and accelerate resistant “superbugs”. 

We advise that healthcare providers demand detailed evidence from suppliers on the effectiveness of antimicrobial products before making any purchasing decisions; they should also consider whether these products carry any associated risks that can outweigh any of the claimed benefits for patient and staff safety.

Whilst we appreciate the transparent and open response from ECHA, our concerns remain unchanged: the current situation requires regulatory oversight to keep pace with “innovations”, ensuring that they are safe and effective. We strongly encourage ECHA, the European Commission, and EU Member States to address the emerging topic of nano/biocide-treated articles used in COVID-19 context, and to bring forward guidance for resistance assessment of antibacterial biocidal products.

We advise that healthcare providers demand detailed evidence from suppliers on the effectiveness of antimicrobial products before making any purchasing decisions; they should also consider whether these products carry any associated risks that can outweigh any of the claimed benefits for patient and staff safety.

Read more about benefits and risks of treating articles with (nano)biocides in our article for The European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials - Nanosilver in healthcare – does the silver bullet exist?

February 19, 2021Europe
A circular economy of food in healthcare
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe, in collaboration with the Hospital of Niort, have concluded a three-year pilot project to implement a circular economy model of food within the healthcare sector. We have produced a project report summarising the actions and outcomes of the project, as well as a short series of videos taken throughout the project.

The MECAHF project began in 2018 and was motivated by the lack of available information and data on food procurement and food waste within the healthcare sector. This means that there is limited information on the benefits of a circular model of food in healthcare, and therefore it can be a challenge to motivate hospitals and healthcare systems to transform their food systems.

Through this project, we aimed to demonstrate that a circular economy model can help reduce environmental impacts and also save money for reinvestment in healthier and more sustainable food procurement. It can also have other added benefits, including improved patient and staff satisfaction, safety, and health. As part of the project, the Hospital of Niort assessed the volume and composition of waste throughout their food supply chain - from procurement, through to preparation and consumption, and ultimately disposal. A set of tools to measure the cost and carbon impact of food waste were also developed - these tools also allow the user to simulate changes to their procurement strategies to assess the impact this would have on their costs and carbon footprint.

You can learn more about the project activities in our video series available in French, or with English subtitles. The final video is also available in Spanish.

By fighting food waste, saving money, and purchasing more local and organic products, the project aimed to establish the Hospital of Niort as an example of best practice for a circular economy of food in healthcare and to promote this example throughout the healthcare sector in France and Europe.

the MECAHF project reportIn the project report, we provide an overview of the project's objectives and the actions taken to achieve them. We also provide some policy context (both French and EU regulations).

The healthcare sector is uniquely positioned to properly marry agriculture, health, and environmental goals, and to contribute to the debate about how to address tomorrow's food challenges, including preventing and reducing food waste. Through their purchasing decisions, healthcare providers can invest in sustainable agriculture, and can act as powerful advocates for action on public policy to build healthy and sustainable food systems. By implementing healthy and sustainable food strategies, healthcare providers can improve public and environmental health, and begin to address the socio-economic disparities that exist within our communities.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, or how you can help test the software developed to calculate the carbon footprint of food waste at your hospital, please contact europe@hcwh.org.


HCWH Europe gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the European Commission (EC)’s LIFE programme, The Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation, The Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, and The Ecological Transition Agency (ADEME).

HCWH Europe is solely responsible for the content of this project and related materials. The views expressed do not reflect the official views of the EC, The Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation, The Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, or ADEME.

    

 

February 18, 2021Europe
Webinar: Chemicals of Concern for the Health Sector
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

Join the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Health Care Without Harm in the launch of their new report: Chemicals of Concern for the Health Sector.

 

On February 25, 3 PM CET (9 AM EST, 11 AM ART, 5 PM TRT) experts will discuss the chemicals used in the health care sector, as some of them may pose environmental or health hazards (Check your timezone)

This online session will feature different case examples that demonstrate how hospitals have successfully substituted chemicals and chemicals in products with more sustainable alternatives. This experience shows how health systems are moving away from hazardous products by substituting them with safer alternatives.

Register here

 

This new document is based on the report Chemicals of Concern to Health and Environment, published in 2018 by Health Care Without Harm and UNDP, as part of the Sustainable Health in Procurement Project (SHiPP). This new document captures and expands the information of the chemicals used specifically in health care, and is designed to help health care facilities identify the type of hazards, the application and use of the chemicals, and their safer alternatives. 

Chemicals of Concern for the Health Sector will prove to be a useful resource also for suppliers, to identify products and substitution with less hazardous, clinically appropriate alternatives. 

When

February 25, 3 PM CET | 9 AM EST | 11 AM ART | 5 PM TRT (Check your timezone)

Speakers

  • Laura Altinger: Regional Team Leader, Nature, Climate, and Energy, UNDP Eastern Europe and Central Asia
  • Megha Rathi: SHiPP coordinator, Health Care Without Harm
  • Tshepo Mokhadi: Chief environmental officer, Bongani Regional Hospital, Free State, South Africa
  • Queen Tsoeu: Assistant director in supply chain management, Bongani Regional Hospital, Free State, South Africa.

Moderator

Susan Wilburn: International sustainability director, Health Care Without Harm

Register here

 

February 17, 2021Global
5 variations of plank hold to strengthen your core muscles
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

5 variations of plank hold to strengthen your core muscles


How to get pregnant with PCOS and PCOD
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

How to get pregnant with PCOS and PCOD


INDIA | Study finds healthcare professionals support climate action, role of health sector crucial
By Sundra Liu | | 0 Comments |

The largest ever survey on climate change conducted among over 3000 healthcare professionals in India, has revealed that the health sector should play a crucial role in action and advocacy on climate change in India. Over 85% respondents believed that the healthcare sector has a responsibility to address climate change and reduce their own carbon footprint. 3062 healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, hospital administrators, Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) health staff and healthcare students were surveyed in this study conducted between August and December 2020.

The respondents belonged to six states in the country representing various zones: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.

The findings of the study clearly indicate that health sector leaders want the sector to be at the front and center of action and advocacy on climate change. Indian health sector can make a substantial contribution to mitigate the effects of climate change by adopting green technologies to reduce various greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing energy consumption by adopting renewable energy – Dr. Arvind Kumar, Founder Trustee, Lung Care Foundation.

While the survey found high awareness among healthcare professionals on the issue of climate change, it also revealed that not many of them are currently actively raising the issue of climate change and its impacts among the public. The respondents were of the opinion that much work was needed to make the healthcare systems climate resilient and that the healthcare professionals should be equipped with adequate information for them to raise awareness among the public. 72.8% of those who participated in the survey agreed that it was the need of the hour and climate change and its health impacts must be included in the medical curriculum in India.

VIEW THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

 

February 17, 2021Asia
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