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Safer Chemicals: Overcoming the Barriers

By: Seema Wadhwa, Director, Healthier Hospitals Initiative

I recently had the opportunity to moderate panel to a very engaged audience at Healthcare Design conference. I was very pleased with the make-up of the audience—facility owners, interior designers, physicians and CEOs What I was most impressed with was that everybody in that room was there because they cared about chemicals of concern—namely PVC, halogenated flame retardants, and more. I often find myself believing if people cared about the “why”—change is inevitable.

So I sat there pondering that question, with the opportunity to pose it to a larger audience. I asked them, “I know you care because you are here on a Saturday – so why then do we still have chemical-laden interiors? And this is what I learned.

  • Bureaucracy
  • Funding
  • Past experiences with “green” products that failed
  • Speed to market – “unproven” technology
  • Perception of inferior quality
  • Lack of research-based literature

While all of these factors make a good case for “why not” I have to admit, I left that room with a stronger belief in knowing that because people care, change is indeed inevitable.


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