Mercury elimination

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Mercury reduction policies are among the most common environmental commitments in health care. Mercury is toxic to human health, posing a particular threat to the development of the child. To target mercury reduction and elimination as a goal, hospitals and health systems first need to assess where mercury is found within their facilities, which might include:

  • Clinical devices, such as thermometers, sphygmomanometers, esophageal bougies and dilators, certain tubing, and dental amalgam
  • Facility equipment, such as switches, relays, thermostats, fluorescent lamps and light bulbs, and batteries
  • Lab fixatives and stains for epidemiology and histopathology
  • Pharmaceuticals

Many of our member hospitals have made eliminating mercury from clinical devices a top priority and have worked to win the Making Medicine Mercury Free Award, established standalone mercury-free purchasing policies, or included mercury-free as part of a larger institutional safer chemicals policy. In addition, a waste stream audit can identify which mercury-containing devices can be recycled and managed as universal waste,  reducing the amount of costly hazardous waste disposal needed.  

Practice Greenhealth offers step-by-step resources that will make it simpler for any hospital with a mercury elimination goal to design, implement, and measure the success of their efforts.

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