“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.