Safer Chemicals

Photo courtesy of HDR; © 2010 Farshid Assassi

Every day, patients and workers are exposed to a wide array of chemicals in hospitals and health care facilities.  More chemicals are used in health care than in any other sector. Many of these chemicals have been shown to have a lasting negative effect on individual health, public health and the environment. 

Why Safer Chemicals

Harmful chemicals used in some health care products are linked to a range of health impacts

  • Chemicals are present in some health care products, furniture and fabrics
  • Harmful chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, asthma and other health problems
  • Hospitals can create a healthier environment by using safer alternatives

Review the Safer Chemicals Resources for details of each level of commitment and data measurements required.


Level 1

Commit to one of the following: Green cleaning, DEHP and PVC reduction, healthy interiors, mercury elimination.

Level 2

Commit to two of the following: Green cleaning, DEHP and PVC reduction, healthy interiors, mercury elimination.

Level 3

Commit to three of the following: Green cleaning, DEHP and PVC reduction, healthy interiors, mercury elimination.

Level 4

Commit to four of the following: Green cleaning, DEHP and PVC reduction, healthy interiors, mercury elimination.

A

Green Cleaning:
Inventory cleaning products and purchase 90% Green Seal or UL ECOLOGO certified cleaning products in the following categories: carpet, window, all purpose, bathroom, and general floor care*.

B

DEHP and PVC Reduction:
Eliminate DEHP and PVC from at least two product categories**.

C

Healthy Interiors: 

Ensure that 30 percent of the annual volume of furnishings and furniture purchases (based on cost) eliminate the use of formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), antimicrobials***, and all flame retardants****.

D

Mercury Elimination: Achieve mercury-free status or develop and implement mercury elimination plan. 

*Does not include strippers or finishes

**Product categories include:1. Breast Pumps and accessories, 2. Enteral Nutrition Products, including all tubing, 3. Parenteral Infusion Devices and Sets, 4. General Urological (irrigation/urology sets and solutions, urinary catheters), 5. Exam Gloves, 6. Vascular Catheters including Umbilical Vessel Catheters, and 7. Nasogastric Tubes

***Triclosan and triclocarban are explicitly prohibited. No other added or built-in chemical antimicrobials are allowed unless they are registered with the U.S. EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and have published data that show efficacy in a hospital/clinical setting measured by a reduction in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) as part of comprehensive infection control measures. Antimicrobials added to materials or products for the sole purpose of preserving the product are exempt.

**** Eliminate the intentional use of all flame retardants where code permits. When flame retardant chemicals are necessary to meet code requirements, use chemicals that meet GreenScreen Benchmark 3 or 4 or their equivalent.

Furnishings and furniture include seating (chairs, stools, sofas, benches, etc.), work surfaces (tables, desks, etc.), built-in and modular casework, systems (walled desks with seating), beds (including mattresses), storage units (cabinets, filing cabinets, dressers, drawers, etc.), shelving (bookshelves, built-in shelves, etc.), panels and partitions, cubicle curtains, and window coverings.

Resources
File Name Download
Safer Chemicals Healthy Interiors Guidance.pdf Download File
HH Healthy Interiors Fact Sheet.pdf Download File
Related Healthy Interior Standards.pdf Download File
Safer Chemicals Measures Overview.pdf Download File
Safer Chemicals Infographic.pdf Download File
Safer Chemicals Fact Sheet.pdf Download File

List of Furniture and Materials that Meet the HH Healthy Interiors Goal

Healthier Hospitals (HH) makes it easier for hospitals to select furniture and materials that meet the Healthy Interiors goal of the Safer Chemicals Challenge.

HH worked with furniture manufacturers to identify office furniture that meets the Healthy Interiors goal.