HCWH's co-founder Gary Cohen is a recipient of the prestigious Skoll Award. This video, chronicling the evolution of HCWH's work, premiered at the 2009 Skoll World Forum. enlarge video
Cleaners, Pesticides, and Fragrances: Global Overview
For More, Select a Region
Despite their role as places of healing, health care institutions use a surprising number of highly toxic chemicals on their premises, including pesticides, cleaners, disinfectants and fragrance chemicals. As these chemicals vaporize, they contribute to poor indoor air quality, which has been identified as one of the top environmental risks to public health.
Patients are particularly vulnerable to indoor air quality threats, as many have compromised respiratory, neurological or immunological systems and/or increased chemical sensitivities. The U.S. Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (JCAHO) has also expressed concern over the growing number of respiratory problems among health care workers.
The good news is that health care facilities can manage pests and provide a clean and sanitary environment without the use of toxic chemicals.
Health Care Without Harm is working with hospitals to choose safer cleaning products and less toxic disinfection methods, and to adopt integrated pest management and fragrance-free policies that improve indoor air quality and promote health.
For detailed information on this topic, in addition to tools and resources, select your region of the world from the links at the top of this page.
- Cleaning Chemical Use in Hospitals Fact Sheet (pdf)
- Cleaning for Health: Products and Practices for a Safer Indoor Environment
Report and toolkit available on INFORM website
- Common Substances in Hospitals May Cause Asthma: HCWH report (pdf) Read the press release
- Controlling Pests Without Harmful Pesticides (pdf)
- EWG Survey links chemical exposures on the job to diseases in nurses
Environmental Working Group website
- Fragrance-Free Policies
FAQ and sample policies
- Not Too Pretty: Fragrance, Phthalates and the FDA (pdf)
- Pretty Nasty: Phthalates in European Cosmetic Products (pdf)
- Sustainable Hospital Project
database of alternatives