University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences

In 1998, a Memorandum of Understanding between the American Hospital Association and the U.S. EPA set new goals for hospital pollution prevention. One of the top priorities was the virtual elimination of mercury and mercury containing devices from the hospital purchasing and waste stream. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. The most sensitive health effect of mercury is an adverse impact on the neurological development of fetuses, infants and children. Low-level prenatal exposure can result in language, memory and attention deficits in children who were exposed in utero. Since the establishment of the MOU, hospitals have substantially reduced the purchase of mercury containing chemicals and medical devices and found substitutes for many mercury containing pharmaceuticals.

The University of Chicago Medicine has substantially reduced its use of mercuric compounds/chemicals and mercury containing devices. Additionally, the University of Chicago Medicine will inform manufacturers, vendors and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) of its non-mercury purchasing policy, and will encourage them to identify and label products containing mercury, and to offer non-mercury alternative products whenever feasible alternatives exist that do not compromise patient care.

Purchasing for the University of Chicago Medicine has programs in place with key vendors to minimize waste associated with materials that are shipped to the medical center each day.

For additional information contact Purchasing at 2-9400.

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