Reprocessing Helps Make Healthcare Safer and More Just for Everyone

The costs of environmentally-detrimental human activities fall disproportionately on low-income and minority communities. Research has found that such communities are consistently targeted by industries that follow a “path of least resistance” when deciding where to locate waste disposal sites and other hazardous facilities, such as incinerators that burn medical waste. (Environmental Research Letters 10 11508, 2015; Environmental Research Letters 10 125011, 2015)

These facilities are known to be a major contributor to hazardous air pollution. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1997) Additionally, current research suggests that increased temperatures due to climate change increase water and air pollutants associated with serious respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. (European Respiratory Review, 2014; Multidisciplinary Respiratory Review, 2015)

Researchers have found medical waste disposal to be causally associated with dangerous pollution, and it disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations. The current paradigm of disposability in healthcare is not only wasteful, costly, and inefficient – it is also unfair, and violates medicine’s Hippocratic oath to “do no harm.”

Reprocessing reduces emissions of greenhouse gasses and hazardous pollutants. Reprocessing makes healthcare safer, cleaner, and greener. In fact, by freeing up critical financial resources for healthcare facilities, reprocessing could allow the healthcare industry to invest in quality and accessibility of care for people of all means backgrounds.

disability-adjusted life years are lost to pollution caused by hospitals.
0 billion
per year estimated direct damage cost to health caused by climate change by 2030.


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