Baltidome Blog | Baltimore Green News

Green Health Care

Health Care has become a contentious issue.  While we may not all agree with the way we should deal with the rising costs of health care, most agree that Health Care should be a healthy practice.   In recent years people across the United States have been working to make our health care system a healthier place for both its patients and the environment.

Mercury is a neurotoxin that can harm the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver.  It has been used for years in thermometers, batteries and other devices.  Legislators are working to ban the sale of mercury nationally and many states, such as Maryland, have already done so independently. 

Health Care Without Harm is an organization helping doctors, nurses and others implement healthy practices, such as ridding their offices of mercury and other toxic elements.  According to their site “There is approximately 1 gram of mercury in a typical fever thermometer. This is enough mercury to contaminate a lake with a surface area of about 20 acres, to the degree that fish would be unsafe to eat.”  Non-profit organizations and healthcare facilities and systems can become a member of Health Care Without Harm and receive the latest news and resources in environmentally friendly health care.

Sustainable Hospitals is a another organization working towards a better health care environment.  They offer online technical support for providers seeking products and practices to reduce occupational and environmental hazards.  On their site they have a page where you can search for healthy product alternatives by category, manufacturer, hazard or product.  For a link to the page, CLICK HERE.

Drug Waste
Most people discard unused drugs by flushing them down the toilet or tossing them in the trash.  According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, “a U.S. Geological survey in 2002 sampled streams in 30 states. Of the 139 streams tested, 80 percent had measurable concentrations of prescription and nonprescription drugs, steroids, and reproductive hormones.”  Although there is currently no law controlling household waste, the EPA encourages individuals to contact state and local waste management authorities about where to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.

Baltimore City, for example, has hazardous waste collection days twice yearly for items such as mercury thermometers and pharmaceuticals.  The Baltimore Department of Public Works has an upcoming Hazardous Waste Drop-off event Saturday, October 10, 2009 and Sunday, October 11, 2009, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Polytechnic Institute Parking Lot (Corner of Falls Road and Cold Spring Lane) *This event is open to Baltimore City residents ONLY.  In order to participate, you must show proof of residency when you arrive.

Looking at Medicine in New Ways

The longest living people on earth are from Okinawa in Japan.  Not only is it uncommon for Okinawans to live to be 100, but they also appear younger and are remarkably healthier much further into their senior years than others.  While it is recognized that genetics play some role in their longevity, studies show that the Okinawan lifestyle of healthy eating practices, gardening, exercise and the use of a combination of eastern and western medicine is a major contributing factor.  Johns Hopkins University Center For A Livable Future is an organization working to educate individuals and institutions on ideals related to those practiced by the Okinawans.  With both a website and a blog addressing issues such diet, the environment, food production and agriculture, the Center For A Livable Future is a one stop shopping center for anyone wishing to investigate the connection between these topics and human health.