U.S. Health Care Makes Dramatic Impact on Environment

[From PLOS One] The healthcare sector has an outsized influence on pollution in the United States, according to new research. The United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) globally and health care is responsible for nearly 10% of those emissions. To put this in perspective, if the U.S. healthcare sector were its own country, it would rank 13th in the world for GHG emissions, ahead of the entire United Kingdom. Alarmingly, the continued increase of U.S. healthcare GHG emissions overall is up 30% over the past decade. The U.S. healthcare sector is also responsible for non-GHG environmental impacts, including acidification (12%), smog formation (10%), and respiratory disease from particulate matter (9%).

The researchers argue that an ongoing problem is that indirect health damages caused by healthcare sector pollution go largely unrecognized and unreported. These findings “underscore the need to measure, mitigate, and educate on the considerable human health and environmental impacts associated with health care practice itself,” according to the researchers... (Continue reading)