Exposure to toxic chemicals in everyday life has increasingly become a health concern. More than 80,000 chemicals are used in commerce today, and only a small fraction have been tested for effects on human health. There is growing evidence that environmental exposures to some chemicals contribute to cancer, asthma, reproductive disorders and other heath impacts.
At Kaiser Permanente, we’re committed to researching and sourcing safer alternatives to products such as cleaners, solvents, disinfectants, plastics used in medical devices and building materials, flame retardants, and formaldehyde.
In 2010, Kaiser Permanente developed the Sustainability Scorecard as a way to rate our medical supplies on how eco-friendly and non-toxic they are. The scorecard is the first of its kind for health care and enables Kaiser Permanente to better choose products that reduce environmental and human health impacts while also encouraging our suppliers to increase their offerings of eco-friendly supplies.
Download the Sustainability Scorecard.
To promote health in all communities, we made the Sustainability Scorecard available to the health care industry’s largest Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs). With coordination by Practice Greenhealth, five GPOs then agreed to collect information on product attributes using a list of Standardized Environmental Questions for Medical Products based on our model. The total annual purchasing volume represented by these organizations is estimated at $135 billion. This significant leveraging power is helping to advance an economy where the production and use of chemicals are not harmful for humans or the environment.
We have already made great strides in product replacements:
Read some of our case studies in environmentally preferable purchasing.
Kaiser Permanente recognizes the importance of engaging in public policy work in order to advance an economy where chemicals used in commerce are not harmful to humans or the environment. Kaiser Permanente’s environmental stewardship officer, Kathy Gerwig, has testified before U.S. Senate and House committees about Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to curb the use of potentially toxic chemicals.
Kaiser Permanente also supports safer chemicals through research. The organization’s Division of Research frequently conducts studies that highlight the connection between exposure to harmful chemicals and their impact on health. A recent study published in the journal Human Reproduction, looked at the effect of high levels of workplace exposure to Bisphenol-A, or BPA, on the male reproductive system in humans. Kaiser Permanente works to publicize findings such as these and to assure that our medical facilities are free from such toxins.
Download the latest factsheet on our Safer Chemicals work.
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