Environmental Effects of the Health Care Industry

Many different factors contribute to pollution, climate change, and other growing environmental concerns. One party that holds a lot of responsibility is the healthcare industry. By nature, medical treatment often requires chemical materials and large amounts of energy. Though often necessary, there’s no denying the negative environmental impact. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce or counter this. Find out more about the environmental effects of the healthcare industry and how medical facilities can make it better.

Material Waste

A lot of materials make their way into and out of a medical facility every day. Many products—such as gloves, utensils, and table coverings—are one-use, disposable items that keep individuals, rooms, and equipment clean. This leads to pounds and pounds of trash, much of which is made of plastic or other nondegradable materials. Chemical usage is also a major issue, and much of the waste hospitals produce is biohazardous due to the cleaning products and pharmaceuticals that are necessary within the facility.

Energy Usage

Hospitals use a massive amount of energy every day of the year. Medical facilities not only house sophisticated, high-tech pieces of equipment that require a lot of energy to function, but also use a lot of power for normal utilities. The constant lighting, heating, and water these buildings need adds up. Laundry facilities need high amounts of water and heating to sterilize bedsheets, towels, and other materials. The cafeteria needs power to cook for and feed hundreds or thousands of people a day. Because many medical facilities are always open and treating patients, the intensive energy usage never ceases.

How to Help

Many of the environmental effects of the health care industry are unfortunate byproducts of the important, lifesaving work it does. However, just like everyone else, medical facilities have options to reduce their carbon footprints. From monitoring unnecessary waste to investing in more efficient technology, there are many ways to make your medical facility more eco-friendly. Every little action creates a larger effect on the world around us. When all of us do our part, we create a healthier environment for the planet and everyone living on it.

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Written by Emma Radebaugh

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