According to Shaner (2011), pollution is something that is created unconsciously everyday with US hospitals alone producing about 1% (over 6000 tons) daily. The major pollutant in the health care field is the medical wastes incinerators which produce dioxin, a chemical compound that can potentially cause cancer, damages immune system, cause hormonal imbalance as well as reproductive and development complications. It is for this reason that most hospitals in Vermont no longer prefer having onsite incinerators prompting the setting up of Safety Medical Systems which specializes in incineration of medical wastes products together with steam sterilization of medical wastes as the first principle step towards medical pollution amelioration.
Again due to the constant need to embrace progressive approaches in preventing pollution in areas associated with health care delivery, nurses have been urged to reduce the mercury level in their work places by collecting the neurotoxin material separately from other wastes and above all advocating for a mercury free working environment with an extended duty of not damping batteries in trash can, needle boxes and drain, a practice that Shaner calls ‘Battery Waste Management’. Further, apart from proper fluorescent tube disposal, Shaner urges the nurses to not only check the amount of biohazard material in their work places but also to participate in the purchasing of pollution free equipment by recommending recyclable equipment which are free from hazardous compounds like mercury as well. Shiner also openly discourages incineration, a practice that she only recommends for wastes that cannot be treated with any other method except incineration.
On the contrary she emphasizes in the need to embrace autoclaving (steam sterilization) particularly for polyvinyl wastes which are the leading emitters of chlorine into the atmosphere. Lastly, Shaner pinpoints that waste and expired pharmaceuticals should be taken back to manufactures for proper disposal and should never be flashed down the toilet nor be incinerated with other wastes.
Shaner, H. (2011). “Pollution Prevention for Nurses: Minimizing the Adverse Environmental
Impact of Health Care Delivery.” The nightingale Institute of Health and the
Environment. Retrieved on 16 March, 2011. < http://www.nihe.org/p24nurse.html>