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Improving Air Quality in Your Community

Outdoor Air - Industry, Business, and Home: Hospitals

You can help hospitals reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that may affect hospital employees, patients, their families, and the community by encouraging hospitals to conduct these activities:


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Locate Sources of Mercury

      How?
  • Conduct a regular mercury audit to determine where mercury may be used.
  • When forming a mercury audit team, use employees from all parts of the hospital. They have the best knowledge regarding where sources of mercury pollution may occur.
  • Formulate a plan based on the results of the audit to reduce sources of mercury.
      Benefits
  • Reduces mercury emissions.
      Costs
  • Time and labor to conduct an audit and develop a plan.
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Communicate Mercury Dangers

      How?
  • Develop a training and communication program aimed at increasing general awareness of mercury health impacts.
  • Train employees to look for ways to reduce mercury pollution.
  • Develop and implement a protocol to prevent hospital employees from disposing of mercury in sharps, infectious, or any other waste containers.
      Benefits
  • Reduces mercury emissions.
      Costs
  • Training costs.
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Replace Sources of Mercury

      How?
  • Alternatives to mercury thermometers include electronic, infrared, chemical strip, gallium, indium, and tin thermometers.
  • Mercury blood pressure cuffs can be replaced by aneroid and electronic blood pressure cuffs.
  • Use gastrointestinal tubes weighted with tungsten or water instead of mercury.
  • Replace mercury pharmaceutical products with mercury-free preservatives.
  • Identify why mercury is present as an active ingredient in laboratory chemicals. It may be possible to identify a mercury-free alternative.
  • Insist on mercury disclosures of all incoming products to the hospital.
  • Insist on using recovered and recycled mercury in all products that do not yet have mercury-free alternatives.
      Benefits
  • Reduces mercury emissions.
  • A hospital that instituted a mercury reduction program removed 440 pounds of mercury from thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, and other equipment (EPA).
  • Reduces cost and time spent on spill cleanup.
  • Minimizes the costs associated with mercury collection, storage, recycling or disposal; paperwork for tracking hazardous waste disposal; training for hospital employees who handle mercury-containing products or respond to spills; and complying with regulations.
      Costs
  • Capital costs for new equipment.
  • Training employees to use new equipment and products.
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Develop a Mercury Housekeeping Program

      How?
  • Ensure that equipment and operating procedures meet all standards for handling mercury. This helps avoid inadvertent mercury air emissions.
  • Monitor and maintain the working condition of mercury-containing equipment. Label equipment.
  • Establish procedures on how and where mercury may be used and disposed.
  • Create and implement spill cleanup procedures for the recovery and cleanup of mercury spills.
  • Recycle mercury whenever reducing the amount of mercury used is not feasible.
      Benefits
  • Reduces mercury emissions.
      Costs
  • Training employees to use new procedures.
  • Increased labor cost for maintenance and other activities.
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