“Do No Harm” by Charlotte Wallace, RN

“Do No Harm” by Charlotte Wallace, RN

I’m sure, like me, you have walked into a restaurant’s bathroom and upon opening the door, heard the hiss of their well-intended air freshener. As pleasant as smelling strawberries is compared to the base scent, have you ever stopped to think what it is you are inhaling into your lungs? I can assure you there are no strawberries in the list of ingredients.  

Since World War II, scientists have followed the consumer’s request for products to be silkier, bubblier, and better smelling. (Who determined that clean was the smell of pine trees?)  Scientists add F.D.A. registered carcinogenic, neuro toxin, and endocrine disruptor chemicals because, until recently, most consumers had not connected the link between their environment and their health.

There have been countless studies of human serum, urine, and even breast milk, looking at the chemicals we absorb, inhale and ingest. It was believed that these chemicals could not cross the placenta, but a recent study found 287 chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in the cord blood of newborn babies (Environmental Working Group, 2005). Unfortunately, these chemicals do not biodegrade or metabolize into something less toxic. They persist in our bodies where they are believed to have a half-life of 7-12 years.

As healthcare providers we pledge to “do no harm.” AAMC is committed to reducing the chemical exposure for the healthcare provider, fragile patient and numerous visitors. Since 2003, 85% of our cleaning chemicals are Green Seal certified. AAMC is a near mercury and latex free facility. The cafeteria offers rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) free milk, cottage cheese and cream cheese. AAMC has pledged to use low to no VOC paints, stains and finishes. Our battery-recycling program has diverted over 5,000 pounds of batteries from the incinerator, significantly reducing the heavy metals released into the air. These along with countless other sustainable initiatives are helping AAMC improve the quality of and possibly even saving lives.

Want to learn simple steps to reducing toxins in your home?  Do you have a sustainable idea you would like to share with AAMC’s green team? Stop by the Earth Day Fair on Wednesday, April 21st, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Rotary Room, you’ll be glad you did.

4 comments

  1. Posted by Juli Butler, at Reply

    Charlotte,

    Thank you for the informative article. It is so important for us to be aware of how AAMC is creating a healthier environment for the staff and patient populations. We should be proud to share with others the strides that our facility is taking to improve each year.

    I also appreciate the info on air fresheners and other ‘household’ chemicals that we take for granted as being harmless. Many air fresheners are high in formaldahyde and contribute to side affects such as headaches and asthma. Fabric softeners are high in neurotoxins. Household cleaners evaporate into our homes overtime, so it is good to open the windows occasionally and air things out.

    Knowledge is power, and while we can’t live in a sterile environment. . . we can make small changes that can make a big difference.

    Thanks again for raising awareness.

  2. Posted by Charlotte Wallace, at Reply

    Just wanted to remind everyone not to get “green-washed”! Just because it says “natural” or “green” doesn’t mean it is the best to buy. Learn your symbols like Organic, Green Seal, Fair Trade, etc.

    If you would like to compare brands, chemicals or companies before you shop there are lots of websites to help you. One of my favorites is – www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/

    (Just promise me you won’t get paralyzed by the info. It’s about making the best choices for you and your family when you can.)

  3. Posted by Kara Flaherty, at Reply

    Great article Charlotte!

  4. Posted by Kerry Blume, RN, at Reply

    Way to go Charlotte! : )

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