Every day, patients and workers are exposed to a wide array of chemicals in hospitals and health care facilities. Many of these chemicals have been shown to have a lasting negative impact on individual health, public health, and the environment.
Resilient flooring manufacturers use a range of feedstock materials to make their products from synthetic petrochemical-based polymers, including vinyl, rubber, and polyolefin, to natural materials such as wood and linoleum. Depending on the material selected, flooring can be an important and negative contributor to indoor air quality. Some of the materials and chemicals used in flooring can contribute to a wide range of adverse health effects, including asthma, cancer, and developmental impacts, among others.
Health Care Without Harm has identified some of the worst chemicals and materials in flooring and has created criteria that help institutions avoid those chemicals of concern. The criteria target specific materials, chemicals, and classes of chemicals for elimination due to a range of concerns, including carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, persistence, bioaccumulation, and ecotoxicity, among others. The criteria also seek to drive greater transparency in flooring content, rewarding the most complete disclosure of information.
Many leading health systems are members of Practice Greenhealth, our membership organization. Practice Greenhealth provides tools, resources, and a community of practice to implement sustainable practices in health care. The Healthy Flooring goal helps member hospitals facilitate the purchasing of products that meet our criteria and achieve safer materials benchmarks. The Greenhealth Approved seal makes it easier for hospitals to identify and select products that meet the Healthy Flooring goal. Look for the Greenhealth Approved seal to identify flooring that meets Health Care Without Harm’s criteria.