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Can Nurse. 2007 Jan;103(1):22-6.

Promoting environmentally responsible health care.

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  • 1Regina General Hospital, Saskatchewan.


Dioxins, polyvinyl chloride and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate are the three main toxins interfering with the goal to maintain a healthy environment, according to the international organization Health Care Without Harm (2004). Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to cancer, as well as reproductive, cardiac, hepatic and developmental disorders (Tickner, Schettler, Guidotti, McCally, and Rossi, 2001). Health-care clients are potentially exposed to these toxins every day: polyvinyl chloride equipment, such as i.v. bags and tubing, is widely used in hospitals, and medical incineration practices emit dioxins into the air (Chlorine Chemistry Council, 2006). Nurses are uniquely positioned to play an active role in environmentally responsible health care through education, advocacy and the implementation of measures to reduce medical wastage and exposure to these chemical toxins (Canadian Nurses Association, 2005).

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