The story of the Sambhavna Clinic, a non-profit holistic health clinic in Bhopal, India, built to treat those injured by the Union Carbide toxic gas release in 1984. enlarge video
Contact: Anja Leetz +49 175 732 0657
Better Flooring Choice could reduce Workers and Patient’s Exposure to harmful Chemicals
Brussels — Health Care Without Harm Europe today launches a new report: “Healthy & Sustainable Flooring, choosing resilient flooring for the European healthcare sector” in the run-up to the CleanMed Europe conference in Malmö, Sweden, 26-28th September 2012.
We do need to reduce the exposure to harmful chemicals and a good flooring choice could be part of this. This report will enable hospitals to make better choices, in the interest of their staff, patients and the environment.
Choosing the ‘right’ floor can be a challenge for procurers and facility managers in hospitals, affecting staff, patients and visitors alike, as the floor is one of the most extensive and visible parts of the healthcare environment and a long-term decision that cannot easily be reversed.
The new report develops key decision criteria: sustainable hygiene, cost effective life and comfortable safety in order to assess the currently available flooring choices in the European market. PVC flooring, linoleum and rubber are compared. The ideal resilient flooring is non-toxic throughout its life cycle, practical (hygienic and easy to clean), durable, safe, silent underfoot, visually pleasant and cost-effective. The report concludes that currently no ideal material exists, but some choices come close to achieving key desirable features with fewer chemical hazards.
Anja Leetz, Executive Director, HCWH Europe states: we do need to reduce the exposure to harmful chemicals and a good flooring choice could be part of this. This report will enable hospitals to make better choices, in the interest of their staff, patients and the environment. The report also shows that producers of flooring material need to continue research and development to produce more sustainable materials.
Dr. Rye Senjen, the report author noted: asking the right questions and balancing decision criteria should be key to any flooring decision. Once the decision has been made it is important to specify in detail all the necessary performance and environmental requirements of the flooring Choosing flooring that has achieved a high quality environmental certification such as Blue Angel, NaturePlus or the Austrian Environmental Label, will make this step a lot safer and easier.
The report recommends avoiding PVC flooring, if taking into account the overall life cycle costs and the need for low environmental impact. Its manufacture and disposal involves the emission of unavoidable toxic compounds, particularly dioxins. It may also contain other toxicants such as plasticisers and flame retardants.
Neither linoleum nor rubber contains chlorine (responsible for the dioxins associated with PVC manufacture and disposal) and both are also generally free from plasticisers. While linoleum may be suitable for many areas, it is not recommended for treatment rooms or operating theatres due to its potential for moisture adsorption. A number of available linoleum floorings have achieved ecolabel certification and if at all possible one of these should be chosen if deciding to use linoleum.
When considering rubber flooring, it is essential to choose wisely by avoiding rubber flooring containing recycled tyres and focusing on high quality rubber flooring with an appropriate ecolabel. If chosen with an appropriate environmental certificate and appropriate surface quality, rubber flooring offers the best opportunity to combine reduced maintenance costs, good slip resistance, good acoustic properties and comfort. No stripping and waxing or use of aggressive chemicals for cleaning purposes are required to maintain rubber floors, reducing the exposure to chemicals of patients and carers alike.
The report can be downloaded from HCWH Europe website:
- Healthy & Sustainable Flooring, choosing resilient flooring for the European healthcare sector, Double pages
- Healthy & Sustainable Flooring, choosing resilient flooring for the European healthcare sector, Single pages
A paper version will be available at CleanMed Europe
Contact: Anja Leetz, Mobile: +49 152 5397 8103 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of more than 500 organizations in 53 countries, working to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. Visit the HCWH website for more information.