Mercury Elimination

Avoiding exposure to mercury has long been understood to protect human health, particularly brain development in fetuses, nervous system development, and kidney, liver, and heart health in adults. A systemwide mercury-free purchasing policy was developed to formalize mercury-free purchasing practices that were already in place at all facilities. A key point of this policy mandates that products containing mercury must be avoided whenever feasible as long as mercury-free alternatives exist and do not compromise patient care.

University Hospitals actively monitors its wastewater effluent to make sure mercury is not discharged into sewer systems. Mercury-containing items are not disposed with municipal solid waste that leaves a UH facility. All fluorescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps, HID and projector bulbs are collected for disposal as universal waste. Batteries are also collected and sent for disposal as universal waste to keep materials out of the landfill. University Hospitals Case Medical Center, for example, collects and segregates batteries by type: alkaline, lithium, nickel and/or lead-acid. When discovered, mercury-containing products are collected, replaced with a mercury-free equivalent, and the old material is disposed of via our hazardous waste vendor. Each hospital has a Best Management Program (BMP) for mercury and mercury-containing materials. The BMP was first adopted at UH Case Medical Center and implemented in 2004 – 2005, and the hospital continues to evaluate, monitor and track mercury releases and disposal. In 2014, a formal systemwide inventory of any remaining mercury-containing devices will take place, and all hospitals inventoried will receive the appropriate training and spill kits based upon the sources of mercury identified in the facility.

15 Environmental Excellence awards

UH received 15 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award, for our systemwide achievements in sustainability in 2013.