Understudied class of PFAS found in healthcare facilities

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

Researchers have detected an understudied class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as fluorotelomer ethoxylates (FTEOs), in indoor dust and industrial wastewater samples collected across two provinces in Canada. They found the highest concentrations of FTEOs in dust found in healthcare settings, such as a hospital, a pharmacy, and a medical school, and in effluent produced at a healthcare linen cleaning facility (Environ. Int. 2022, DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2022.107634).

Hospital Food Waste: Reducing Waste and Cost to our Health Care System and Environment

Saber, D.A., Azizi, R., Dreyer, S., Sanford, D., Nadeau, H., (February 25, 2022) “Hospital Food Waste: Reducing Waste and Cost to our Health Care System and Environment” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing 27(2). https://doi.org/10.3912/OJIN.Vol27No02PPT33 [open access]

Abstract: Food waste economically and environmentally impacts every industry in the U.S., including healthcare systems. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Hierarchy provided the framework for this study that examined how hospitals in one rural northeastern state processes food waste. Methods included semi-structured interviews with hospital nutrition service experts were conducted at seven facilities across the state. Findings indicate: (1) food is largely disposed of via in-sink disposal processes, making quantification difficult; (2) food donation is a viable humanitarian and waste prevention strategy, but is not widely used because of litigious concerns; and (3) culinary education promotes food repurposing strategies. The discussion highlights the need for nurse leaders to inform policy makers about changes that could positively impact the environment while reducing the waste stream and hospital expenditures.

MnTAP publication highlights work of 2022 P2 interns

The 2022 MnTAP Solutions magazine highlights the projects led by our 16 talented interns and the companies that supported their recommendations to reduce waste, water, energy. These projects resulted in proposed solutions that could save the companies $3,068,000 annually as well as significant environmental impacts.

‘If I were a hospital, I’d be reading the tea leaves’: Pressures grow on the health care industry to reduce its climate pollution

Read the full story at STAT.

Flooding, heat waves, wildfires, and other climate-driven weather extremes in recent years have catapulted hospitals into emergency mode and devastated the communities they serve, with Hurricane Ian’s deadly rampage through central Florida only the most recent example. 

But while hospitals might seem to be the unwitting victims of climate disasters, the U.S. health care system — and hospitals in particular — shoulder a good deal of the blame. The health care sector accounts for about 8.5% of all the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and about 4.5% of worldwide emissions. These emissions are generated mostly from running energy-draining facilities 24/7, and from the vast array of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food, and other goods and services produced, purchased, and sometimes wasted, in the course of providing care. 

Some hospitals have begun to tout their efforts to combat climate change, claiming to have achieved 100% renewable energy or “carbon neutral” status. They offer scattershot examples of progress in reducing their emissions, citing “meatless Mondays” in hospital kitchens or improved recycling programs. Yet hospitals have long been laggards in even tracking and reporting their emissions and waste — much less reducing them. Today there is no way to hold the country’s 6,000 hospitals accountable and benchmark their performance.

CDs to flexible biosensors: Researchers discover easy, inexpensive upcycling method

Read the full story from Binghampton University.

Since 1999, more than 9 billion music CDs have shipped in the U.S. That’s not counting worldwide sales, DVDs, software discs or videogames. Sadly, discarded CDs end up in landfills with negative environmental consequences.

New research from Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science offers a second life for CDs: Turn them into flexible biosensors that are inexpensive and easy to manufacture.

In a paper published this month in Nature Communications, Matthew Brown, PhD ’22, and Assistant Professor Ahyeon Koh from the Department of Biomedical Engineering show how a gold CD’s thin metallic layer can be separated from the rigid plastic and fashioned into sensors to monitor electrical activity in human hearts and muscles as well as lactose, glucose, pH and oxygen levels. The sensors can communicate with a smartphone via Bluetooth.

Washing dishes with superheated steam more effective, earth-friendly

Read the full story from AIP Publishing.

Conventional dishwashers often do not kill all the harmful microorganisms left on plates, bowls, and cutlery. They also require long cycle times that use large quantities of electricity, and the soap pumped in and out is released into water sources, polluting the environment.

Superheated steam dishwashers could provide a more effective, environmentally friendly solution. In a recent article published in Physics of Fluids, researchers from the Technical University of Dortmund and the Technical University of Munich simulated such a dishwasher, finding that it killed 99% of bacteria on a plate in just 25 seconds.

Brightmark launches medical waste recycling program with Jamar Health products

Read the full story at Recycling Today.

Brightmark, a global waste solutions provider based in San Francisco, and Jamar Health Products, a Wisconsin-based health care product manufacturer, have announced a strategic partnership to recycle plastic medical waste.  

Brightmark says it provides a sustainable and circular solution for chemically recycling and converting Jamar’s proprietary Patran slide sheets, made of low-density polyethylene and high-density polyethylene, into low-carbon fuels and the building blocks for circular plastics.  

Health sector causes 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, report finds

Read the full story at Health Care Dive.

The U.S. healthcare system is responsible for an estimated 10% of national greenhouse gas emissions, which cause extreme weather events and contribute to worse health outcomes, according to a new report from the House Ways and Means Committee.

The healthcare system is now experiencing the damaging effects of climate-related weather events that will continue to disrupt operations and take a severe financial toll. Failing to establish the infrastructure to track and reduce health sector greenhouse gas emissions will accelerate the impact, it said.

In a survey of health systems conducted for the report, a majority of respondents (54 out of 63) said they had experienced at least one extreme weather event in the past five years. The cost of repairing damages from the event was in the millions for many respondents.

Prescribing solutions for medical plastics

Read the full story in Recycling Today.

Efforts to address plastic devices used in health care include recycling, depolymerizing, even refurbishing some devices.

Hospitals use less fossil fuel but energy use hasn’t slipped much

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Over the past 25 years, hospitals have decreased fossil fuel use, but electricity use isn’t declining as much. According to a survey by Grumman|Butkus Associates, the average combined Btu/ft2 (electricity plus gas/steam) for participating facilities was 236,743 in this year’s survey, up from 233,491 in 2019.