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Kaiser Permanente Converts to PVC- and DEHP-Free IV Equipment

Kaiser Permanente announced it is converting to more eco-friendly IV medical equipment made without PVC and DEHP, two industrial chemicals that have been shown to harm human and environmental health.Kaiser Permanente will purchase IV solution bags that are 100 percent PVC and DEHP free and intravenous tubing that is 100 percent free of DEHP.

Kaiser Permanente announced it is converting to more eco-friendly IV medical equipment made without PVC and DEHP, two industrial chemicals that have been shown to harm human and environmental health.

Kaiser Permanente will purchase IV solution bags that are 100 percent PVC and DEHP free and intravenous tubing that is 100 percent free of DEHP.

Research suggests long-term exposure to DEHP (di-2-ethyl hexyl phthalate), used as a plasticizer in medical devices, can affect the body's endocrine system, resulting in a variety of hormonal abnormalities, particularly in infants. When PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) plastic is manufactured or incinerated, dioxin pollution is created. Dioxin is a known carcinogen. These substances are currently widely used throughout the health care industry.

Kaiser Permanente purchases 4.9 million IV tubing sets and 9.2 million solution bags each year. This conversion affects nearly 100 tons of medical equipment and also is expected to save close to $5 million a year.

The decision was influenced by Kaiser Permanente's Sustainability Scorecard, the first of its kind in health care and a model for green purchasing in the sector. The scorecard, which launched in 2010, helps Kaiser Permanente evaluate the environmental and health impacts of each medical item it purchases and also encourages suppliers across the industry to provide greener products for the health care sector. The scorecard requires suppliers to provide information on their company's environmental commitment, use of potentially harmful chemicals in their products and information about product and packaging recycling.

Kaiser Permanente spends more than $1 billion each year on medical products. The focus on greener products is just one aspect of Kaiser Permanente's work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the use of harmful chemicals and promote sustainable food choices. Through its green building efforts, Kaiser Permanente saves more than $10 million per year and has eliminated the purchase and disposal of 40 tons of harmful chemicals in its facilities.

Last year, Kaiser Permanente agreed to deploy up to 15 megawatts of solar power in a deal that has placed solar panels at Kaiser Permanente facilities across California.

Bart King is a PR consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications.

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