The ubiquitous exposure to toxic chemicals in everyday life has increasingly become a health concern. Unfortunately, many products used in health care contribute to hazardous exposures — including cleaners and disinfectants, phthalates in medical devices, flame retardants in furniture, formaldehyde in furniture and labs, and solvents in labs.
Emerging scientific research is raising the level of concern about the health impacts of chronic chemical exposures. We now know that:
- Even small doses of chemicals can cause disease — interfering with sexual development, disrupting hormones and causing cancer at very low levels.
- Children and developing babies are most vulnerable.
- Hundreds of synthetic chemicals are found in human breast milk and in the cord blood of babies in the womb.
- Chemicals can act like drugs in our body, disrupting systems at low levels of exposure, and potentially causing harm in combination. As chemical use has grown in industrialized societies, so have chemical-related diseases, including cancer, asthma, birth defects, developmental disabilities, autism, endometriosis and infertility. Mounting scientific evidence links the incidence of these diseases in part to environmental toxicants.
Due to these trends, Health Care Without Harm is working with health care institutions around the world to reduce their use of hazardous chemicals and products, and to implement policies that drive the market toward safer alternatives.
- Chemical Policy Principles: Letter to Obama Administration
- Common Substances in Hospitals May Cause Asthma: HCWH report (pdf) Read the press release
- EWG Survey links chemical exposures on the job to diseases in nurses
Environmental Working Group website
- Europe's Rules Forcing US Firms to Clean Up
Unwilling to surrender sales, companies struggle to meet the EU's tough stand on toxics (LA Times article)
- Healthy Business Strategies for Transforming the Toxic Chemical Economy (pdf)
- REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals)
Learn about EU's REACH Law
- Sustainable Hospital Project
database of alternatives
- Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website
- US state-level reform efforts
The state of Maine seeks to ban bisphenol-A (BPA) as the first "priority chemical" in their Kids-Safe Product Act
- US Kid-Safe Chemicals Act
- What does Chemical Contamination Cost Health Care? download pdf or view web presentation