Environment News Service (ENS)

Environment News Service (ENS)

Pollution Prevention Videoconference Links Hospital Staffers


Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

OLYMPIA, Washington (ENS) - Hospital employees across Washington state can learn the most current methods for managing and reducing hospital wastes, especially from disinfection and sterilization processes, at an interactive videoconference broadcast to six locations on March 8, 2007.

Through speaker presentations, question and answer sessions and local roundtable discussions, participants will learn about preventing pollution, decreasing waste, reducing disposal costs, ensuring regulatory compliance, and protecting worker and patient safety.

Speakers include Fred Miller, industrial hygienist with Washington State University Environmental Health and Safety. Miller has worked in hazardous waste and emergency response management for more than 15 years in both private environmental consulting firms and in academic institutions.

'At our campus hospital, we changed to a hydrogen peroxide sterilization method,' Miller said. 'This allowed us to eliminate over 500 pounds of toxic gases from our campus. Now that we can turn instruments around faster, we no longer need to use cold sterilization during certain surgical procedures. This has lead to a further reduction of hazardous chemical use and exposure.'

An agreement between Ecology and the Washington State Hospital Association is guiding projects to eliminate mercury and other wastes.

The primary goal of the agreement is to eliminate mercury waste from Washington hospitals. While mercury has many uses in the health care industry, it is a reproductive and neurological toxin. Hospitals contribute four to five percent of the total mercury in waste water.

Among the goals of the seminar is to reduce the total volume of wastes generated by the health care industry by 30 percent.

The seminar is jointly sponsored by Ecology, Washington State Hospital Association, Washington State University, University of Washington, Department of Health and the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center.

There is no fee for this seminar. Seats are limited in some locations, so registration is required. Find the location nearest you and register online at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/mercury/hospitals/seminar.html

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