It was an ironic discovery: Medical centers designed to treat patients could actually be harming them. In 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report that found that incinerators used by many hospitals throughout the United States were a top of emitter of harmful air pollutants, including mercury and dioxin….
…Cohen began approaching members of the U.S. health care sector — including facilities managers, nurses, and other staff that dealt with waste stream management — in hopes of convincing them to reconsider how they disposed of waste. Many, including major professional associations, were reluctant to consider the change, especially since it would require large costs up front.
But Cohen said he and his partners persisted, telling organizations, ‘You can’t poison your neighbors in the service of healing them. You have to align with the Hippocratic Oath that your industry is grounded in.’
His team [at Healthcare Without Harm] tried to demonstrate that much of the potentially infectious waste could be reduced by reusing, reprocessing, and recycling, and that alternative technologies could work just as well at killing pathogens as incinerators.”
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